Tag Archives: Paul Kuehnert

Kuehnert accepts position with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

KANE COUNTY—Paul Kuehnert, executive director for of the Kane County Health Department, accepted a position with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy focused exclusively on health and health care, as Senior Program Officer and Team Director of their Public Health Team. His last day with Kane County will be Friday, June 1.

Paul began working for the Health Department in June 2006, and was appointed by the board to serve as executive director beginning in June 2007. Since then he has provided executive leadership to three county departments: Health, Animal Control and the Office of Emergency Management. From the spring of 2010 on, he has also had responsibility for the Office of Community Reinvestment.

“Paul’s passion for public service and improving the health and well-being of our residents is limitless,” County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay said. “Throughout his time with us he has focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental services, increasing both governmental and community partnerships and demonstrating the impact of public policy and systems changes on the health and quality of life of Kane residents.”

During Paul’s tenure, the Health Department responded to a number of a public health emergencies, such as the TB outbreak among the homeless population (which recently was featured in the CDC’s weekly MMWR); the H1N1 pandemic; and hepatitis A, which resulted in more than 2,000 gamma globulin shots given to a restaurant’s patrons. Further, the department was able to secure $500,000 in grants from private foundations; and the department has integrated master planning with the Development and Transportation departments.

“Paul has made a tremendous contribution to Kane County residents and Kane County government. I am pleased that he will have the opportunity to share his wealth of community health knowledge and expertise on a national level through this opportunity with the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” McConnaughay said.

Effective June 2, Barbara Jeffers will become the interim executive director for the Health Department. Jeffers, assistant director for administration, has been with the Health Department for seven years. She is responsible for high-level administrative functions, including budgeting, human resources, labor relations and facilities management. Prior to county government, Jeffers was employed by the state of Illinois for 14 years—her last appointment being the director of training and development for the Department of Human Services. She has a Masters of Public Health degree from the Northern Illinois University and a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“Barb possesses a unique set of skills and attributes that will be an asset to the Health Department during this transitional period,” McConnaughay said.

Kane County Health Department community garden plots now available

Kane County—Plots in the Kane County Health Department’s community gardens are now available, just in time for the start of the growing season. There are more than 1,300 community garden plots available throughout Kane County, primarily in the various Park District locations.

The prices and availability vary, but check out the website of your Park District for details.

“The best way to add fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet is by growing your own,” said Paul Kuehnert, Health Department executive director. “Besides having the satisfaction of growing it yourself and the savings you’ll see on your grocery bill, we know that a regular diet of fresh fruits and vegetables helps battle chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. That is why increasing access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is a priority in the Health Department’s Community Health Improvement Plan, recently adopted by the Board of Health.”

Plan your garden with your family. Not only will your children enjoy the family activity, they are more likely to try produce they helped grow. And you’ll enjoy the fresh air activity.

For more information on starting a garden, check out the University of Illinois Extension guide, “Ten Steps to a Successful Garden” at web.extension.illinois.edu/vegguide/tensteps.cfm.

Veterinarian accepts post with Animal Control

Kane County—Dr. Kimberly Rudloff, DVM, accepted an offer of employment as Kane County’s new Veterinarian/Administrator for the Kane County Animal Control Department. Dr. Rudloff will begin her duties on Monday, Feb. 6, at an annual salary of $88,000.

“Dr. Rudloff is a caring and compassionate veterinary professional and a solid clinician, administrator and businesswoman with a consistent record of success,” said Paul Kuehnert, Executive Director Kane County Health Department. “Based on her personal attributes, professional qualifications and past experiences, I fully expect her to excel as Kane County’s Veterinarian/Administrator.”

Dr. Rudloff’s selection was the result of a recruitment process that began immediately after the Kane County Board passed Resolution 11-358, authorizing the hiring freeze exemption and approving the new job description. A national search was undertaken with ads in veterinary and public health professional journals and newsletters, as well as both print and online advertising in the Chicago metropolitan area. This resulted in the receipt of 110 applications, seven of which met the qualifications for the position. Six of the 7 qualified applicants were residents of the Chicago area, submitted their applications within a few weeks of the advertisements, and were interviewed.

Dr. Rudloff has been in practice since 1991. She obtained both her undergraduate degree (animal sciences) and her doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Ohio State University. Following graduation, she completed a one-year internship in emergency medicine and critical care. In addition to her years of clinical experience in both general and emergency veterinary medicine, Dr. Rudloff has served in professional teaching, clinical research, consulting, and administrative roles.

As the Assistant Director of Membership and Field Services for the American Veterinary Medical Association, she coordinated efforts to design and implement employment and housing programs for veterinarians and animal care technicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In her most recent position, she developed, established and now directs the veterinary technology and veterinary assistance programs for Sanford Brown College in Hillside, Ill.

County Board votes for settlement with AFSCME

Kane County—The Kane County Board voted Tuesday to authorize an agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3966 concerning the 45 Health Department union employees who were laid off Nov. 8, 2010. The agreement includes a monetary payout and an extension of recall rights to three years, up from one year.

“This closes a difficult chapter in the history of the Kane County Health Department,” said Paul Kuehnert, Health Department executive director. “I feel this is a fair settlement for both sides. I look forward to working together with AFSCME, and our staff represented by AFSCME, as we continue to provide the essential services of public health to Kane residents.”

Each of the 45 union employees will receive $500, plus an amount that would have been received for 16 days of work and in short-term sick day accrual benefits had those employees remained actively employed through Nov. 30, 2010. In addition, the affected employees will be eligible to be recalled for employment for up to three years. This is an increase from the one-year recall included in the standard union contract.

The 2010 layoffs were brought about by a reorganization of the Health Department due to declining revenues from state programs administered by Kane County. The reorganization saw the transfer of a set of individual health services, such as mother-baby case management, to the three Federally Qualified Health Centers serving Kane County.

“Despite all the dire predictions about people falling through the cracks, the FQHCs have proved their ability to provide these important services,” Kuehnert stated. “This is a good example of responsible reorganization of local government in partnership with private community agencies, assuring that the Health Department can continue to provide the vital services of protecting and promoting the health of our entire community.”

Birds, bugs test positive for West Nile

Kane County—The Kane County Health Department learned that two birds sent in for testing last week tested positive for the West Nile Virus. One of the birds was found in the Pingree Grove, Ill., area, the other was found in the Aurora area. In addition, a pool of mosquitoes gathered in the Aurora area tested positive for the disease.

Hot dry weather and stagnant water are the two main ingredients prized by the Culex mosquito, the species most commonly associated with the disease.

Thus far in 2010, there have been no human cases detected in Kane County, nor anywhere else in Illinois. However, West Nile-infected birds and/or mosquitoes have been detected in 11 other Illinois counties.

“We saw a lot of rain in May and June that may have left pools of standing water,” Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said. “Along with the sweltering temperatures we’ve been seeing, it creates the perfect soup for the mosquito to lay her eggs. All of our residents should take a look around their yards to identify these potential breeding grounds and eliminate sources of standing water.”

Last year was an unusually mild summer with cool temperatures, and there were no human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Kane County. There were three cases of the virus reported in 2008. In 2007, there were 13, four in 2006, 17 in 2005, two in 2004, none in 2003 and nine in 2002.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website at www.kanehealth.com or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/ wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kane County postpones Health Department cuts

Proposal calls for slashing state-funded programs
by Keith Beebe
COUNTY—County officials on July 13 postponed making a decision on proposed Kane County Health Department budget reductions for 30 days, offering a mini reprieve for several programs and as many as 62 employees whose positions will be terminated if the board approves the cuts.

The County Board chose, instead, to seek out another way to ease the Health Department’s current financial strain without eliminating several of its programs.

“I am just hoping I can put my vote forth towards solving the problem,” Kane County Board member Drew Frasz (Dist.26-Elburn) said. “We obviously want our Health Department to be fully staffed, and we certainly don’t want to have to cut anyone.”

About half of the Health Department’s funds currently come from Illinois state grants; however, the state currently owes Kane County between $1.5 and $1.7 million for services already provided. If the budget amendment goes into effect, the County Board no longer will accept several grants for certain health programs because of the state’s inability to follow through on its financial responsibilities.

“Paul (Kuehnert, Kane County Health Department executive) is advising everyone to not rely on state funds,” Frasz said. “And if there’s no positive movement in a positive direction in the next 30 days, we’ll have to vote in favor of the cuts.”

Despite the grim outlook, Frasz credits Kane County Board member Cristina Castro (Dist. 20-Elgin) with attempting to salvage Health Department positions by pushing to postpone budget cutbacks.

“Cristina basically came up to me and said, ‘Thirty days isn’t going to make or break us,’ and I give her a lot of credit for trying to make a difference,” Frasz said.

Anticipating the possibility that the County Board may approve the proposed budget cuts, Health Department officials are working on finding other providers for clients needing certain state-grant-funded services that the County no longer would provide.

“The Health Department is working closely with the state and two federally qualified health centers (Greater Elgin Family Care Center and the Visiting Nurses Association of the Fox River Valley) to assure a smooth transition of case management services that would be discontinued by the Health Department,” Kane County Public Relations Officer Tom Schleuter said.

Grant-funded programs at risk
Source: Kane County Health Department
Kane County Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert recommended that the county reject certain state grants that fund some health programs. He said the Health Department’s budget cannot absorb the programs’ cost if the state does not come through with the money. If the County Board approves the budget revision, the county no longer will accept the state grants that fund programs including Family Case Management and Women, Infants and Children.

Kane County’s Family Case Management program has about 6,000 clients, and the Women, Infant and Children program has about 2,000 clients, many of whom both programs serve.

State budget crisis forces Kane County Health Department cuts

Kane County—Faced with an unprecedented and grim financial condition in Springfield, the Kane County Health Department (KCHD) will undergo a drastic staff reduction and departmental reorganization.

According to a statement released by the department, the KCHD relies on the state for between 40 and 50 percent of its total budget and currently the state owes KCHD $1.7 million for services the Health Department has already performed. This figure continues to grow daily. KCHD Executive Director Paul Kuehnert recommended that the Kane County Board decline to accept certain state grants that require it to perform services for which the state agrees to reimburse the department, because there is no guarantee the KCHD will receive the reimbursement. The mounting debt to the state’s universities, local public school districts, mental health providers and other service providers only serves to underscore the need to take this action.

“Through a combination of cuts to our grants and the state’s irresponsible business practices, this will be the third year in a row that the Health Department has been forced to cut staff and programs,” Kuehnert said. “The cash-flow situation is dire. Without taking swift action, we will not have enough money to operate as early as this fall. We cannot and will not sugarcoat this; it will be painful. We can no longer perform the services that are required by the grants in hopes that we may, some day, receive the money the state of Illinois owes us. We will have to re-organize in order to provide core public health services that will protect and promote the health of our community.”

The Health Department will see about a 40 percent cut in its budget. Because of this, the department will not be able to maintain the same staffing levels. The workforce will be reduced from 120 full-time-equivalent positions (FTE)s today to approximately 70 FTEs by mid-August. These cuts will mean that the Health Department will cease performing many services to residents while assuring core health protection services continue to be provided.

KCHD will continue to work with state officials in an attempt to transition any discontinued Health Department programs to other providers if possible.

West Nile Virus season is here

Kane County—The Kane County Health Department is cautioning residents now that as the warm weather approaches, so does the West Nile Virus season.

Hot, dry weather and stagnant water are the two main ingredients prized by the culex mosquito, the species most commonly associated with the disease.

“As we look forward to outdoor activities this summer, we need to be mindful of West Nile Virus and take precautions for our family by wearing insect repellent and protective clothing,” Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said. “We’ve been lucky the last two years, because cool spring temperatures have helped to slow the spread and keep our case counts down. We can’t count on that happening again this year.”

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

Last year there were no human cases reported in Kane County. Five were reported in Illinois. Kane saw three cases in 2008, in 2007 there were 13, four in 2006, 17 in 2005, two in 2004, none in 2003 and nine in 2002.

About two out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, as well as death are possible. People older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen.
• In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found at www.kanehealth.com or www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

County resident dies as result of complications related to H1N1 flu

A Kane County resident died Thursday from complications due to the H1N1 flu virus, the Kane County Health Department reported today. The death is the third linked to the virus in Illinois.

In addition to having the H1N1 virus, the 42-year-old man had underlying medical conditions. Due to privacy concerns, the Health Department will not release any further information about the case.

“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to this family,” said Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert. “With the case numbers rising across the state and the country, it’s tragic but not unexpected that we would see this happening in our county. We know the virus is in our community and we all need to take steps to protect ourselves and our families. People with chronic medical conditions need to take special care to protect themselves from influenza.”

The total case count at this time in Kane County 35.

Everyday actions people can take to stay healthy are:

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Stay home if you’re sick.