×

Framing the substance abuse problem

Gerald Messana, health officer for the Marquette County Health Department, addresses the Marquette County Board of Commissioners at Tuesday night’s regular meeting. The board unanimously voted to support a grant application from Marquette County Cares coalition to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs that would fund a traveling art show addressing substance abuse. The board also approved the replacement of the health department’s electronic medical records system. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to support a grant proposal Tuesday from the Marquette County Cares coalition to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs that would fund an art show addressing substance abuse.

The proposal aims to increase substance abuse awareness in young adults by funding a traveling, competitive art show that focuses on “framing this problem of substance abuse,” said Gerald Messana, health officer for the Marquette County Health Department.

Messana explained Mary Harris, coordinator for the Marquette County Cares coalition, is applying for the grant because the department believes it will allow them to take a unique approach to educating young adults about substance abuse.

“She’s doing it through kind of an innovative idea, which is, she’s engaged the art club at Northern Michigan University,” Messana said. “They already have outreach that they do to do a traveling art show, and then we would support that art show, with the theme of substance abuse.”

The coalition would partner with the NMU Art Students League and the Students’ Art Gallery to organize a traveling competitive art show that aims to increase awareness of substance abuse issues, with support from the grant.

“The grant would help support packaging and delivery and transportation of the art show to different communities, not only in Marquette, but also across the U.P.,” Messana said.

The competitive show would allow anyone between the ages 18 and 24 to submit works portraying substance abuse issues, as the coalition believes there is a gap in prevention work for local young adults, specifically in that age range.

“Our substance abuse program has a good availability of reaching children age up to 18,” Messana explained. “What we’ve had a challenge doing, is reaching children and young adults between 18 and 24.”

According to documents provided to the board, the show would be juried by professors and artists from the community.

“Our goal is to have the call for art go out around January of next year and have submissions by approximately end of March,” Harris said, noting that winners would be announced in July 2019, with the show traveling throughout fall 2019.

The artwork chosen for the show would be displayed with prevention and educational materials at galleries throughout the U.P.

In other business, the board also unanimously approved the replacement of the Marquette County Board of Health’s electronic medical records, or EMR, system at the meeting.

Messana explained the health department explored different EMR systems, as its current software, Insight by Netsmart is becoming outdated, and is no longer compatible with SQL software.

To continue contracting with Net-smart, the health department would need to stick with its current system, Insight, which would cost approximately $206,000 over five years, with no guarantee of continued support from Netsmart. Or it could update to a new system, MyInsight, which would cost nearly $300,000 over five years.

Due to technical and cost issues, the health department explored EMR systems from eClinicalWorks and Patagonia and compared them to systems offered by Netsmart in areas such as functionality, installation cost and annual operating cost.

All companies provided quotes to the health department, which showed eClinical Works was the lowest bidder, with a total cost of $184,200 over five years.

“Based on what we saw, the most economical solution is eClinicalWorks and by far the most clinically accepted solution as well,” Messana said. “One of the benefits we have from this is four of the six health departments already use this as well in the U.P., so there’s local support. We interact a lot with these other health departments so we felt that we had our own built-in little local user group.”

The board unanimously approved the replacement of the health department’s EMR system with the eClinicalWorks software.

“I commend you for you and your staff for all the homework you did to save $115,000,” Chairman Gerald Corkin said, thanking Messana and his staff for their time spent evaluating EMR systems.