Health official offers new inspection plan

Published: Tue, December 4, 2012 @ 12:07 a.m.

Department faced state shutdown of its food examination program


By William K. Alcorn


The Youngstown District Board of Health has submitted a corrective-action plan to the Ohio Department of Health that the city’s acting commissioner, Erin M. Bishop, believes will preserve the local health department’s food-service inspection program.

The city health department faced possible loss of its food-service inspection program for failing to make all the required inspections of food-service operations, including those at Youngstown State University, for 2011.

The state health department inspects local health food-service programs every three years.

Its last inspection here was in September 2012 when it looked at 2011.

Bishop, at Monday’s board meeting, said the corrective-action plan was submitted to ODH within 45 days after the citations, as required.

The state health department placed the city health department’s food-service operation on provisional status and said if the deficiencies are not corrected by March 1, ODH could initiate a “proposal for disapproval.”

The city health department’s proposed plan, in general, includes better documentation of inspections and mechanisms to ensure the inspections occur at their scheduled time, and penalty fees assessed food-service operations for failing to renew their licenses in time are properly recorded.

It also includes a request of the city Finance Department to create a separate account for food service department revenue as opposed to placing it in the city’s general fund.

Bishop said ODH is expected to respond to the plan in spring and make an on-site inspection.

In a related matter, four Youngstown health board employees — Bishop; Cicero Davis, director of the Environmental Health Division; and two sanitarians, Jill Anderson Damiano and Laura Daniels — are slated to receive written reprimands for failing to perform all the required food-service inspections in 2011.

The board, upon the recommendation of Mayor Charles Sammarone, board president, voted to issue the reprimands.

On another matter, the health department lost two key employees in the past two weeks.

The bookkeeper retired Friday, and the board accepted the resignation of Melissa Novits, director of nursing, effective Friday.

Sammarone said he recently sent a memo to all supervisors, including Bishop, telling them that vacated positions automatically will not be filled. The jobs will have to be justified, he added.

Sammarone said the city is looking at a $5 million deficit in 2013, and his goal is to eliminate or combine positions wherever possible.

He also chided the board and Bishop for not being “proactive” and alerting the city to vacancies they know will occur. “A plan should have been put in place to cover those vacancies or fill them if required,” the mayor said.

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