“Health District Recognized by State for Sustained Efforts in Responding to Derailment Incident”

The Columbiana County Health District has been recognized for its efforts in responding to the East Palestine train derailment by receiving the Ohio Department of Health Secretary’s Award. The award was presented to Dr. Wesley J. Vince, the Columbiana County Health Commissioner, by Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, at the Ohio Public Health Conference. The health district played various roles in the response, including implementing drinking water sampling plans, opening a temporary health clinic, and establishing a permanent clinic to serve residents with health concerns related to the derailment.

One of the health district’s key responsibilities was developing and implementing drinking water sampling plans to inform the sampling of private wells in the area. The Health District worked with Norfolk South to sample wells free of charge, with a total of 442 sets of final sample results being provided to date. These sample results have provided reassurance to residents affected by the derailment.

The health district also led the efforts to open and operate a temporary health clinic in East Palestine. The clinic provided residents with derailment-related health questions and concerns with an opportunity to talk about their medical and mental health. The clinic saw 338 people during its 28-day operation. The Columbiana County Health District also established a permanent clinic in East Palestine, which is now operated by East Liverpool City Hospital.

Dr. Wesley J. Vince emphasized the importance of public health partnerships when discussing the award. He stated that the award is a testament to the partnerships between local, state, and federal partners, which have benefited greatly and will continue to do so.

Dr. Vince also travelled to Washington, D.C., to advocate for East Palestinians at a hearing held by the House Energy, Commerce and Environment Subcommittee in March. He focused on community recovery and the need for a long-term private well sampling program to ensure safe drinking water for affected households.

Columbiana County Health District was established in 1919 and received national accreditation from the Board of Public Health Accreditation in 2022.

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