Serving the Community Since 1966
On September 6, 1966, the Harper County Commissioners, A.A. Fisher, C.A. Watkins, and H.C. Grant met with Grace Gates to establish the Harper County Health Department / Harper County Home Health Agency. The agency was established with a 100% reimbursement grant, which ran through July 1967. Grace Gates, RN, was appointed as the administrator with a starting salary of $395 per month. Betty Carmichael was hired as the clerk for the agency with a salary of $200 per month. It was decided that the rooms in the southwest corner of the courthouse basement would house the new agency. There was no running water for cleaning instruments or hand washing in this area, so the south end of the ladies restroom was partitioned off to provide room for a sink. Since there were no funds available to purchase supplies or equipment, the employees were told they could obtain furniture that was not being utilized from other offices. Desks, a typewriter, and mimeograph were obtained from the vacant Superintendent of Schools’ office. The commissioners gave the administrator permission to buy a used refrigerator for $20. The agency was now ready for business.
The Beginning of Home Care
Dr. Bellar had a patient in the hospital that was ready for discharge, but the patient needed assistance in the home to manage his care due to a recent amputation. This became the first home health patient for the agency. There were 30 visits made in the first month the Harper County Home Health Agency was open. In 2017, a total of 837 home health visits were made. The Harper County Home Health Agency was closed effective November 1, 2017.
Public Health Department
On July 1, 1967, Grace Gates wrote a grant to develop the Public Health Department and hired Virginia Downing to organize and record all of the immunization records onto yellow index cards. The Harper County Health Department still provides immunizations, in addition to a number of other programs developed for public health since 1967. Most public health program information is now maintained electronically. The Harper County Health Department staff provided 5,403 public health procedures to 1,817 individuals in the community in 2022. 2,891 hours of homemaker/personal care hours were provided through the Public Health In-Home Service Programs during 2022. Public Health in-home services are provided to individuals through a variety of funding sources (HCBS, Senior Care Act, Private Insurance, Older Americans Act and Private Pay). These numbers do not include blood pressure clinics provided at Friendship Meal sites and miscellaneous health and safety checks. The Women, Infant, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) also continues to be an important community service administered through the Harper County Health Department. In 2022 the agency served an average of 84 individuals a month with the WIC program. In 2022, $51,561.80 WIC dollars were used in the local stores.