Lafayette board approves public health measures

by Errol Castens

Lafayette County supervisors accepted two measures this week that could help in case of a mass-casualty event or a public health emergency.

The board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Mississippi State Department of Health to accept an AmBus kit to convert a school bus into an ambulance that could accommodate up to 12 stretcher patients at a time. Lafayette School District has offered a used bus, storage, maintenance and a driver for the emergency vehicle conversion. This bus would be in addition to one such AmBus conversion already in service, which utilized a surplus bus from Oxford School District.

County Emergency Management Director David Shaw expressed gratitude to Lafayette Superintendent of Education Adam Pugh and Transportation Director Gary Drewrey for facilitating the donation.

Board members also approved an application to make the county a Closed Point of Dispensing in case of a flu epidemic or other emergency that requires medicating the general public.

“All citizens of the county would receive appropriate medication, but this closed POD system would allow Lafayette County employees and their families to receive the medications quickly so we could continue to provide essential services,” Shaw said.

The federal government has regional stores of vaccines, antibiotics and other medicines that might be needed in a pandemic or other health emergency. Many different kinds of organizations – businesses, churches, government entities, schools and more – can qualify to become points of dispensing that would administer such medicines to their employees, members and/or students to free up open points of dispensing for the general public’s use.

“I’ve talked with Dr. Tom Fowlkes,” Shaw said, referring to the physician who oversees healthcare for inmates at Lafayette County Detention Center. “He has enthusiastically accepted the role of consulting physician.”

In an unrelated matter, supervisors approved paying $5,000 toward the purchase and placement of signs proposed and designed by a project group from this year’s Leadership Lafayette class. Touting “Lafayette County: Greatness happens here,” along with the county’s 1836 founding year and the Chamber of Commerce website URL, the first two such signs are planned for sites on Highway 6 at the Panola and Pontotoc county lines.

Supervisor Chad McLarty pushed for approval.

“I think this promotes Lafayette County in a positive manner,” he said, adding that the county had some $10,000 in a compatible fund that would likely go unused this fiscal year. He noted also that the project group had already raised some $5,000 in private donations.

errol.castens@journalinc.comTwitter: @oxfordcitizenec

About Errol Castens

I'm a news reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal and the Oxford Citizen. Focusing on Oxford and Lafayette County, I've been a part of the L-O-U community since 1991.