Scales new county nurse manager
by Bradley Hartsell
On Jan. 31, the Coweta County Health Department will welcome Dana Scales to be the first new county nurse manager in 29 years.
Scales moved to Newnan in 2006 when her husband, Scott, got his last duty station at Fort McPherson. Being world travelers, as the Scales were stationed in Germany right before coming to Georgia, the family found the joy in being retired from military life and bought a home.
That year, Scales got a job with Piedmont Newnan (then Newnan Hospital) in women and children’s services, where she developed the employee health program within the hospital. Scales knew a merger with Piedmont was coming and wanted to streamline the program into a more efficient version.
She succeeded, and it wasn’t lost on the Coweta County Board of Health last week when they introduced Scales. District director of health and clinical services, Wendy LeVan, listed Scales’ resume to the board — and the employee health program was heavily lauded. The initiative shown in Scales helped her secure an important role that current County Nurse Manager Alice Jackson is leaving behind when she retires at the end of the month.
“She’s an experienced nurse, with a lot of background in areas that will lend to her knowledge in public health,” said Jackson. “She listens well, interfaces well with the staff. I think she’s attuned to interfacing with people as a whole. She’ll help to build consensus with staff and other figures in the community.”
The role of the county nurse manager consists of managing and mentoring the nursing staff, as well analyzing public health services offered at the health department, according to Scales.
“In order to ensure that the county is offering valuable quality health services to our community, I collaborate with the county's board of health on the results of my evaluation and any recommended solutions and implement them accordingly,” said Scales.
Additionally, the county nurse manager will work with with the county's Director of Emergency Management and Preparedness Jay Jones in planning and implementing emergency preparedness training and exercises to ensure a quick response and provide medical services in the event of a true public health emergency, according to Scales.
“The biggest thing for me [being right for the job] was the ties to the community, and residing in the community,” said Scales. “The background that I had — prior military service — helped with managerial experience of this job. It was a good fit overall, I had good ties and will strengthen and continue to build on them.”
Scales says she’s fortunate to be working in Coweta County, which is not only her home, but boasts a health department that she calls “a luxury other counties don’t have.”
“We’re very fortunate,”she said. Despite the new Hospital Road facility capable of hosting the many services and servicing the needs of the community and the staff, Scales admits she’s coming in a tough time and has work to do.
According to Scales, with budget cuts on both the federal and state level, there have been reduced program funding and staffing levels. Along with the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, many services offered by health departments nationwide have experienced “a remarkable decline” or even an elimination of certain services routinely offered, she said.
According to a January 2014 article by The National Connection for Local Public Health, NACCHO, health departments are coming to the realization that they need to bring forth creative solutions that will not only keep alive current services but also provide for a means to generate revenue. That revenue can potentially bring back to life former or additional services that are essential in improving the health and well being of a community, said Scales.
“The misconception that the health department services are free is also a barrier. With the ACA providing for an increase in insured individuals, it is important that the community is aware that we can provide and bill private insurers for some services that a private healthcare provider also provides,” said Scales.
“Although we currently do not have in place a comprehensive billing program as private providers do, we are able to bill and be reimbursed by private insurers for some services such as immunizations,” she added. “This revenue generating concept has the potential to grow, which could in turn allow for other public funds to be reallocated for other much needed programs that also target vulnerable populations.”
Jackson notes the burden Scales will assume but she has the utmost confidence is Scales’ ability to get the job done.
“She’s young and energetic. She’s got some good ideas, and she will be resourceful,” said Jackson. “We’re very fortunate to have her here. It’s not just a job.”