Just three weeks into her new role as the Wayne County Public Health Administrator, Shelley Bickel of Mercer, Mo., has been busy working to secure new grants and partnerships. With close to 30 years experience in public health, she is using her knowledge to bring positivity into the Wayne County office.
By June 1 last year, Bickel was semi-retired after working 25 years in Decatur County and five years in Missouri. At the time when she stepped away from public health, she felt she had a lot to be proud of in her accomplishments and the timing was right.
With the position in Wayne County open, she went through the application process for the Health Administrator role and decided if hired she would come out of retirement.
“There was another candidate interviewed for this position that was also very qualified, said Bickel. “The county could have hired either of us and I believe it would have been very beneficial with either of us in this role..”
With Bickel already having all training and certifications needed, she was able to immediately step in and get to work. With budget concerns being known and reported, hiring Bickel for the position would be beneficial for the county to help with those concerns.
“ I am working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, working 24-hours per week and that cut the budget immensely because I can only make so much money under the IPERS Program,” Bickel stated. “It is a significant cut in pay for this position now, however it is a win-win for me and the agency in working out this deal.”
“It was a good fit, I am helping the county and making a little money as well,” Bickel added. “I love, love, love public health and health care so this is what I wanted to do.”
“I came into this role with a really good staff and that has really helped as well.”
Deidre Buttz has been a nurse since 1984, working as a public health nurse since 2000. Buttz handles home health care.
Ron Wallace is the Clinical Manager and Assistant Administrator, and has been in nursing eight year and at Wayne County Public Health for three years. He does home care and jail nursing three times a week where he travels to the jail to distribute meds and do inmate assessments.
“This is a really good program because it saves the county lots of money by not having the ER costs,” said Bickel. “We are keeping this program because it really is a great thing.”
Charlotte Van Fleet is the Office Manager and has been at Wayne County Public Health since 2003.
“She (Charlotte) is a gem!” said Bickell. “She is great to work with and handles the billing and finances.”
Bickel stated she is also working with Holly Arnold who is with the Wayne County Home Care Aid Agency. Bickel and Arnold will partner together for all home health care needs around the county.
“I feel it’s important to mention all these people because I came into a great atmosphere,” Bickel said. “I also believe I have a great Board of Health and I 100% believe the Board of Supervisors are going to support this program as long as I move it forward. My job is to get the Board of Health and the Board of Supervisors to work together and collaborate.”
Bickel will be attending the monthly Board of Health meetings, as well as planning to attend Board of Supervisors meetings once a month.
“I know the supervisors aren’t used to that but I want to let everyone know what I am doing and be as transparent as I can,” said Bickel. “Which they knew that when I came in.”
Bickel’s number one goal at this time is to rehire Kelly Alexander on a as-needed basis. Alexander was a previous nurse for public health and Bickel hopes this can help build up the program once again.
“She has already been trained and this will allow us to bring in more patients and we won’t have to say no and turn any down due to low nurse staff,” Bickel added.
On day one in her new position, Bickel secured funding to hire a maternal/child health nurse. This nurse will work fulltime in Clarke, Decatur, Lucas and Wayne counties with funding coming from Marion County Public Health.
This nurse position will handle screenings within the schools including dental, vision and depression. Lead screenings will be provided to early headstart students in all four counties.
Bickel hopes to partner with the hospital and OB Department, to provide baby bags to all newborn babies born within the county. They will also provide immunizations through the Wayne County W.I.C. Clinic for those without insurance, which will be grant funded.
“I secured the service, but we have to perform the service to get reimbursed,” said Bickel.
“I am also starting a new condom program, where dispensers will be placed in bars,” Bickel said. “STD’s, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea are on the rise in Iowa. All will be free and also given to providers and other places within the county.”
Bickel is also partnering with Maddison DeVore and Kim Baker from Tease Salon and Healthy Skin by Kim to offer services for elderly and disabled.
“We don’t have a lot of money and with us cutting our budget I had to get creative and do some marketing to get us out there,” Bickel added.
DeVore will be offering elderly and disabled foot clinics beginning May 1 for $20. These will be offered on a monthly basis. Baker will be offering discounted massages for new clients.
Another partnership Bickel is looking forward to is working with the Shabby Chickadee and Denise Hutchison. Hutchison will be offering a form of art therapy with workshops and painting classes beginning in May.
“These ladies are doing all the work and putting it out there it is a partnership with the Wayne County Public Health so this is a really great thing,” said Bickel.
With her already being trained, Bickel will be attending monthly meetings in Chariton, working with Wayne County Emergency Management Director Bill Byrns to do countywide tabletops and exercises for preparedness.
“He (Bill) is really great to work with,” said Bickel.
Bickel will also be working closely with Environmental Health Specialist David Rhoades, who is under the Board of Health. They will work together on any environmental issues presented to Bickel.
“He (David) does a great job in his position,” Bickel added.
“I’ve been busy in my first three weeks here,” Bickel stated. “By mid-April I will have four new grants written and my main goal will be staff nurses doing the nursing and I do the administrative duties.”
“It will be a challenge to get the budget under control but I believe it is very possible.”
Bickel acknowledges she is very community minded and believes any partnership whether government or environmental will be very beneficial for the public health system.
Another goal will be to establish a strong partnership with the local providers at the South Central Iowa Medical Clinics.
“I want them to be able to call us for referrals for home health care and get the people the help they need,” Bickel said. “We want them to refer to us and for that to happen I have to have a good relationship with them.”
In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband Ron who farms along with her two sons, Justin and Wesley and granddaughter Saylor. Both of her boys are engaged and will be married later this year.
“I believe family should always be put first and by doing that it will allow people to work better,” states. “I very much want my staff and nurses to know this will be a great place to work and great environment. I want to come to work and do our jobs and be able to go home and focus on our own families every evening.”
Some may have seen Bickel out and about around the area as she also has her Junkin’ On Bluegrass business. She sells farm, vintage and home decor in businesses around the area including Tease Salon and a new store planning to open soon in Humeston as well as another boutique in Lamoni.
“I just love everything happening here in this area right now, with all the stores and restaurants and new businesses that are coming still. So many good things happening and I am glad I am involved with the public health side in the county.”
“I really want support for Wayne County Public Health as I am trying to build this program and we want people to use our services,” said Bickel. “If someone isn’t happy I want them to give me a call. If they see where something could use improvement, let me know.”