Lab Matters Summer 2016 - Page 34

member spotlight

Fostering Wellness in Wichita Falls by Nancy Maddox , MPH , writer

The Wichita Falls Wichita County Public Health District

Wichita Falls , TX has always offered hope to those willing to work hard — first the Native American Choctaw who settled the area in the early 1800s , then the cattlemen who followed , and later still the refinery workers employed by companies like Panhandle Oil . Today , the major economic draw is Sheppard Air Force Base , which employs just over 12,000 of the city ’ s 105,000 residents ( about half of whom are in the labor force ).

The generally flat terrain in this corner of the Lone Star State — about 140 miles south of Oklahoma City and 100 miles northeast of Dallas — consists of prairies and plains populated by mesquite , skeet-brush and native grasses . The Wichita River , which winds through the downtown area on its way to meet the Red River , is known to overflow its banks during the intense thunderstorms that arise during the spring and summer storm season . One such deluge even destroyed the city ’ s eponymous waterfall in 1886 . ( The fall has since been rebuilt adjacent to the river ).
While the city of Wichita Falls is 70 square miles , the Wichita Falls – Wichita County Public Health District serves a greater metropolitan area comprising 2,675 square miles and three counties : Wichita Falls County and its rural neighbors , Archer and Clay Counties .
The tri-county area is known for its searing summers , celebrated by the Hotter ’ N Hell Hundred , a 100-mile bicycle race that is staged in August — when it is usually 100 degrees or more — and open to hardy amateur and professional riders alike . Don ’ t say the locals don ’ t have a wry sense of humor .
David Chattin , the day-to-day head of the health district ’ s public health laboratory , said the major environmental health risks here are floodcontaminated water , tornadoes , the occasional case of rabies and West Nile virus borne by mosquitoes that are present much of the year . “ The hot topic right now ,” he said , “ is Zika virus .” Chattin has been serving as a technical consultant to area healthcare providers to explain “ what we can and can ’ t test for , what type of samples to collect and the proper test for symptoms they see .”
He said , “ We ’ re a small laboratory , but what we do touches every aspect of the community . . . . We reach a part of the community that ’ s underserved in terms of healthcare ; a part of society that ’ s high risk . It is very fulfilling to give them high-quality health services .”
Facility
The laboratory is in the health district ’ s 1940s-era building in downtown Wichita Falls , not far from the Wichita River and river trail . The single-story , beige brick structure has had several additions over the years , but the laboratory occupies part of the original space . It is conveniently located next to the district ’ s environmental health program , which supplies a portion of the laboratory ’ s testing samples .
Staff
The laboratory has 2.5 positions : two full-time laboratory technicians and a part-time clerk . As the senior laboratory technician , Chattin also serves as the de facto day-to-day laboratory manager and general jack-of-all-trades . In addition to bench work , he oversees the lab ’ s information system , deals with customers and regulatory officials and even draws patient blood specimens when the phlebotomist encounters a “ hard draw .”
Currently , Chattin is the only technician on staff , as the second position is vacant . All laboratory staff report to the assistant director of health .
We reach a part of the community that ’ s underserved in terms of healthcare ; a part of society that ’ s high risk . It is very fulfilling to give them high-quality health services
Lab Manager
Chattin was born in Salt Lake City , UT , and reared in Boise , ID . After graduating from high school , he joined the US Air Force and was assigned to work in the clinical laboratory . Said Chattin , “ By the luck of the draw , I got a job that I really love , which is fortunate because you don ’ t have a choice to change if you don ’ t like what you get .” While working in the military , Chattin took courses part-time from Trident University , ultimately earning a BS in health science . During this time he also met his wife , who is currently stationed at Sheppard Air Base . Among his Air Force assignments , Chattin deployed to Iraq in 2009 and spent time stateside in Las Vegas , San Antonio and Wichita Falls — his last deployment after ten years of service .
Revenue
The laboratory has an annual budget of nearly $ 200,000 , which comes mostly from city funds . Water testing for private individuals and businesses brings in about $ 33,000 / year .
Testing
The Health District Laboratory processes about 9,200 clinical samples annually . The highest volume tests are for sexually transmitted infections , with most specimens drawn from clients who visit the health department ’ s four-day / week clinic , just down the hall from the laboratory , or from the weekly clinic at the local correctional facility . “ Within 15 minutes ,” said Chattin , “ we can get a presumptive diagnosis for gonorrhea , trichomonas or bacterial vaginosis , so [ health department ] patients can get their prescriptions right away .” Tests for HIV , herpes and hepatitis are sent off-site for testing .
32
LAB MATTERS Summer 2016
PublicHealthLabs
@ APHL
APHL . org
member spotlight Fostering Wellness in Wichita Falls The Wichita Falls Wichita County Public Health District by Nancy Maddox, MPH, writer W ichita Falls, TX has always offered hope to those willing to work hard—first the Native American Choctaw who settled the area in the early 1800s, then the cattlemen who followed, and later still the refinery workers employed by companies like Panhandle Oil. Today, the major economic draw is Sheppard Air Force Base, which employs just over 12,000 of the city’s 105,000 residents (about half of whom are in the labor force). The generally flat terrain in this corner of the Lone Star State—about 140 miles south of Oklahoma City and 100 miles northeast of Dallas—consists of prairies and plains populated by mesquite, skeet-brush and native grasses. The Wichita River, which winds through the downtown area on its way to meet the Red River, is known to overflow its banks during the intense thunderstorms that arise during the spring and summer storm season. One such deluge even destroyed the city’s eponymous waterfall in 1886. (The fall has since been rebuilt adjacent to the river). While the city of Wichita Falls is 70 square miles, the Wichita Falls–Wichita County Public Health District serves a greater metropolitan area comprising 2,675 square miles and three counties: Wichita Falls County and its rural neighbors, Archer and Clay [Y\˂HKX[H\XH\ۛۈ܈]X\[[[Y\[X]YHB\&S[[Y H L [Z[HXXHXH]\YY[]Y\8%[]\\X[H L YܙY\܈[ܙx%[[\H[X]]\[ٙ\[ۘ[Y\[ZK۸&]^HH[۸&]]HHܞH[Hو[[܋]Y][H^K]Y^HXYوHX[\X8&\XXX[Xܘ]ܞKZYHXZ܈[\ۛY[[X[\\H\H۝[Z[]Y]\ܛY\H\[ۘ[\HوXY\[\[B\\ܛHH[]Z]\]\H\[]XوHYX\8'HXœY8'HHZY 8'\ZH\\˸'H][\Y[\[\HXX[ۜ[[\XHX[\HݚY\^Z[8']H[[[&]\܋]\Hو[\\X[H\\܈[\\^HYK'BHZY 8'x&\HHX[Xܘ]ܞK]]HX\]\H\XوB[][]K HXXH\وH[][]H]8&\[\\Y[\\›وX[\NH\وY]H]8&\Y\ˈ]\\H[[[]H[BY \]X[]HX[\X\˸'BX[]BHXܘ]ܞH\[HX[\X8&\ NM Y\HZ[[[۝ۂX]H[\HHX]H]\[]\Z[ H[K\ܞKZYHXX\H\Y]\[Y][ۜݙ\HYX\]BXܘ]ܞH\Y\\وHܚY[[XK]\۝[Y[H]Y^H\X8&\[\ۛY[[X[ܘ[KX\Y\Hܝ[ۈوBXܘ]ܞx&\\[[\\˂̂PPUT[[Y\ MYHXܘ]ܞH\ H][ۜΈ[ ][YHXܘ]ܞHXXX[[B\ ][YH\ˈ\H[[܈Xܘ]ܞHXXX[][[\\\HHX^K]Y^HXܘ]ܞHX[Y\[[\[X[ًX[ ]Y\ˈ[Y][ۈ[ܚHݙ\Y\HX&\[ܛX][ۈ\[KX[]\Y\[Y[]ܞHٙXX[[][]]Y[X[Y[[HXZ\[[\H8'\]˸'B\[K][\HۛHXXX[ۈY\HXۙ][ۈ\X[ [Xܘ]ܞHY\ܝH\\[\X܈وX[ HXXH\وH[][]H]8&\[\\Y[\\وX[\NH\وY]H]8&\Y\ˈ]\\H[[[]H[HY \]X[]HX[\X\“XX[Y\][\ܛ[[ZH]KU [X\Y[\KQ Y\ܘYX][™HY H[YHTZ\ܘH[\\YۙYܚ[H[X[Xܘ]ܞKZY][8'HHXوH]HH؈]BX[HݙKX\ܝ[]HX]\H[H۸&]]HHXH[HY[B۸&]ZH][H] 'H[Hܚ[[HZ[]\K][\\œ\ ][YHHY[[]\]K[[X][HX\[H[X[Y[K\[\[YHH[Y]\YK\\[H][ۙY]\\Z\\K[[ۙ\Z\ܘH\YۛY[][\YY\\H[ B[[[YH]\YH[\Y\[[ۚ[[X]H[%\\\[Y\[YX\و\XK][YBHXܘ]ܞH\[[X[Y]وX\H XY\[BH]H[ˈ]\\[܈]]H[]YX[[\[\\[[X] YX\\[•HX[\XXܘ]ܞH\\X]K [X[[\\[X[KHY\[YH\\H܈^X[H[Z]Y[X[ۜ][X[Y[]ۈHY[\]HX[\\Y[8&\\Y^KYZ[X\ۈH[HHXܘ]ܞK܈HHYZH[X˜]H[ܜX[ۘ[X[]K8'][ MHZ[]\8'HZY][8'H[]H\[\]HXYۛ\܈ۛܜXKX[ۘ\܈X\X[Y[\–X[\\Y[H]Y[[]Z\\ܚ\[ۜY]^K'H\܂U\\[\]]\\H[ٙ\]H܈\[˂XXX[X‚TT ܙ‚