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Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Doctor can now do pilot physicals

By Shelley Grieshop
WAPAKONETA - Auglaize County Medical Director Dr. Juan Torres has been approved to give physical exams and other certifications to pilots and other flight-associated personnel.
At the Auglaize County Board of Health monthly meeting Tuesday, Torres discussed the training he endured last week at the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, Okla., including a simulation of a plane on fire.
"If you're ever in a plane that's filling up with smoke, you have only about 90 seconds to get out," he explained. "Look at the floor and follow the lights as you head for the exit."
Torres said he passed Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) instruction and the endurance exercise and is now certified to give physical exams to pilots and certify civil pilots and air traffic controllers.
AMEs are specifically trained and designated by the FAA to perform anywhere after they complete a 41/2-day basic AME seminars, which are conducted four times per year at the institute in Oklahoma City. The education helps prospective AMEs understand the importance of their job, FAA policies and regulations and get updated on the latest medical, technical and clinical information needed to insure airmen meet the standards set by the FAA.
AMEs also must be able to recognize the basis for disqualifying an airman for flight and be able to explain that process to a prospective flight candidate.
Disqualifying conditions include any conditions that could cause sudden incapacitation or death or could otherwise compromise aviation safety.
All pilots must be medically certified in order to fly. The regulation dates back to the Air Commerce Act of 1926.
Torres completed his residency in preventative medicine and public health at the Walter Reed Institute in Washington, D.C., and holds a graduate degree in public health from the John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Md.
He is the current medical director for Grand Lake Health Systems based in St. Marys.
Also on Tuesday, board members approved following an executive session a two-year contract for Health Commissioner Charlotte Parsons. The terms of the contract include a continuation of her 2008 salary at $76,440 and a 3 percent raise that all staff members received this year.
In other business on Tuesday, board members:
• Approved a second reading for an increase in fees for manufactured home park licenses and recreational vehicle parks/campgrounds. If passed on third reading, it will become effective May 1. Manufactured home parks base fee is $150; the fee for each lot over 50 will increase from $4 to $6. Recreational vehicle parks/campgrounds base fee is $100; the fee for each lot over 50 will increase from $3 to $4. Costs do not include state fees.
• Approved a second reading for a new permit fee category for temporary tattoo-body piercing at a fee of $50. If passed on third reading, it will become effective May 1. The permit is for tattoo vendors who have a base permit in the county and seek a "mobile" permit to offer services at venues out of the county. The temporary permit is valid one week.
• Declared several food service operations and retail food establishments in the area to be in violation after failing to timely obtain a valid license.
• Approved the 2009 sliding fee scale for immunizations, an annual action that is based on federal poverty guidelines. Only slight changes were made from 2008 fees, according to Director of Nursing Cindy Jones.
• Approved applications for a Women's Health Services grant for $33,762 and a Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant (formerly called a Public Health Infrastructure grant) for $178,105. Previously the grants are split between Auglaize County, Mercer County and Van Wert County health departments.
Parsons said currently the amount of the Women's Health Services grant is similar to what was received for 2009 but that could change by June 30.
The Public Health grant amount is much less because Mercer County this year is qualified to apply for their own and are doing so. The grant amount is the same as last year: approximately $93,000 for Auglaize County and $85,000 for Van Wert County, Parsons said.
• Approved a proposed budget for 2010 with very few changes from the current budget. Parsons said she has "very little confidence" in predicting the future budget at this time.
• Learned a district advisory meeting is at 8 a.m. March 30 and the next regular board meeting is at 8:30 a.m. April 14.
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