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Lucas health department may set up foundation

Nonprofit could get more grant funds

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Eric Zgodzinski, Supervisor of Community Services at Toledo-Lucas County Health Department, with the Sentinel Site.

The Blade/Andy Morrison
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The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is looking into establishing a nonprofit foundation to help with fund-raising for public health initiatives both within the agency and elsewhere.

Eric Zgodzinski, the department's director of community services, response, and preparedness, has discussed with the Internal Revenue Service how a 501c3 status would work, he told board members at their monthly meeting Thursday.

The foundation would have a separate board, for example, although some members from the health department's board also should sit on it, Mr. Zgodzinski said. The foundation also could award money to other agencies, he said.

As the health department faces state budget cuts and grant changes, having a nonprofit foundation as Mercy and ProMedica hospitals do would help with funding, said Dr. David Grossman, health commissioner.

To cover a more than $633,000 budget shortfall expected for next year, the health department already has raised some service fees, laid off some workers, and made other changes.

"There's a lot of grants out there that are only for 501c3s [nonprofits]," Dr. Grossman said. "This foundation has a chance to get these."

It likely will be mid-2012 before such a foundation could be established, Mr. Zgodzinski said.

Among grants the health department recently has received, meanwhile, is a one-year, $250,000 award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fund a program for using nursing homes, businesses, and other entities to help give vaccinations and medications during a pandemic flu or terrorism act. The CDC is interested in having the health department's program replicated elsewhere, Mr. Zgodzinski said.

"They're putting a lot of stock into us getting this off the ground," he said.

The health department has talked with about 100 groups interested in the "point of dispensing" program, and about 10 have committed, said Cheryl Murphy, community response coordinator at the health department.

Participants can provide shots and/or medications to their own group as a closed site or to the general public as an open site. Rosary Care Center in Sylvania and Stautzenberger College in Maumee are among those that have agreed to become closed sites.

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