Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County is housed in the historic Reibold building
Protecting and Promoting Public Health in a Birthplace of Innovation
by Nancy Maddox , MPH , writer
Montgomery County , Ohio , is recognized as a Birthplace of Innovation . And , given the state ’ s historical role as a geographic link between the populous Northeast and the industrial Midwest , it is unsurprising that many of those innovations relate to transportation and commerce : the Wright brothers ’ “ flying machine ,” James Ritty ’ s cash register , Charles Kettering ’ s electric starting motor and many others . At one point in time , Dayton , Ohio , the Montgomery County seat , had more patents per capita than any other US city . Even Dayton ’ s unusually broad main streets were designed with business in mind — built wide enough to accommodate teams of oxen pulling heavy loads .
With the decline of US heavy industry toward the late 20th Century , Ohio ’ s manufacturing economy slowly morphed into a service economy , centered on healthcare , government , insurance and law . By 2011 , HealthGrades ranked Dayton # 3 of 50 US cities for excellence in healthcare , a sector that now adds over $ 6 billion per year to local ledgers .
Yet Montgomery County innovates still . The new class of creative thinkers can be found at the Air Force Research Laboratory on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base , at Emerson Climate Technologies ’ Innovation Center , at the National Composite Center ( which develops materials for roads and other transportation infrastructure ); and at many other cutting-edge county businesses .
Overall , the 464-square-mile jurisdiction supports about 535,000 residents . It lies entirely within Ohio ’ s undulating Miami Valley , with direct water access — via the Great Miami River , Ohio River and Erie Canal — to the Great Lakes to the north . About 60 miles south is the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky metropolitan area .
The local health agency , Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County ( PHDMC ), is based in Dayton , but also operates satellite clinics . Its laboratory predates PHDMC itself , having been established under the City of Dayton Clinic to support venereal disease testing in 1919 — six years after a catastrophic Great Miami River flood that remains embedded in local lore .
In 2007 , PHDMC expanded its suite of core public health services to include a refugee health screening program for immigrants coming largely from the Middle East and Africa . The health agency , with laboratory support , screens for communicable diseases and acute and chronic illnesses and connects these new residents with primary care providers .
In addition to its on-site analytical services , the laboratory oversees six CLIA-waived testing sites : three WIC clinics , two HIV outreach clinics and PHDMC ’ s Addiction Services Clinic .
The 350-square-foot Montgomery County public health laboratory is on the fifth floor of the Reibold Building on downtown Dayton ’ s Main Street . Constructed in 1896 , the ornate , 11-story building originally housed the Elder & Johnston Department Store and business offices . Today , the historical landmark faces the Dayton Convention Center and houses PHDMC . An ongoing building renovation is expected to wrap up in late 2017 , when the laboratory will move to a newly refurbished , 625-square-foot space two floors down .
The laboratory ’ s CLIA director is Thomas Herchline , MD , and it is managed day-to-day by Hyder Aljanabi , the laboratory coordinator . Aljanabi was born in Baghdad and moved with his family to Washington State in 1999 . After completing high school , he returned to Baghdad for a few years before resettling in Dayton , Ohio , where he earned a biology degree from Wright State University . Aljanabi began working for PHDMC in 2010 , analyzing pollen and mold slides at the laboratory on behalf of the department ’ s Regional Air Pollution Control Agency . After just a year and a half , he was promoted to microbiologist . He served in that post for little more than two years , before advancing to fill a vacancy created when the former laboratory coordinator
LAB MATTERS Winter 2017
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