Blood pressure check

Public health nurses from the Fayette County Health Department recently offered free blood pressure checks to Fayette County government employees and members of the general public at the Fayette County Courthouse. Here, R.N. Becky Lawhorn conducts a blood pressure reading for Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Harrah.

Whether at home or at work, Danny Scalise has learned to make adjustments since arriving as administrator of the Fayette County Health Department in January.

While he and his wife, Trish, get accustomed to life in their new home along 4-H Camp Road, Scalise, an Upper Kanawha Valley native, has begun settling in at his new post as the health department administrator.

Scalise, who has a varied background that features work in finance, government, non-profit and health, was in the 2012 class of Leadership West Virginia, which allowed him to reacquaint himself with Fayetteville, the Fayette County seat. "I fell in love with Fayetteville as I used to be when I (visited) in college at West Virginia Tech," said Scalise, an active traveler, hiker and fisherman who has also availed himself of the area's prime whitewater rafting opportunities.

As the FCHD administrator, Scalise said he and his staff are interested in providing "more health promotion, more education" and conversation about various health topics.

"If people want to quit smoking, I want to help them find a place," he said. "We want to be a resource, whether it's chronic disease, tobacco use (or other areas)."

As an example of the outreach Scalise aims to continue, Beth Frantz and Becky Lawhorn, RNs who are public health nurses for the FCHD, recently performed free blood pressure checks for the public at the Fayette County Courthouse. While performing the checks, they also supplied people with a blood pressure tracking chart and other information related to diet and exercise. "We want to give them a few tools," Frantz said.

In 2014, Scalise worked with the Kanawha Charleston Health Department as interim health promotions director. In assuming his role as the Fayette administrator, Scalise said a major difference he sees is the available resources.

"They had 65 employees, we have seven," he said. "We don't have the staff; it's more of a boot-strap health department.

"Our folks are all professional and have to do things themselves."

The department performs a wide range of functions, including but not limited to food service inspections and assessing other environmental health issues, threat preparedness, immunizations and dealing with STD/HIV issues.

For more on services offered by the Fayette County Health Department, visit Those with questions can call 304-574-1617.

The department is located at 202 Church Street in Fayetteville, near the Fayette County Courthouse. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Scalise is one of the members of a public health impact task force formed by the state Department of Health and Human Resources that held its first meeting in April. The goal of the task force is to redefine the state's public health mission.

Part of the meeting's focus was on discussion of the state's poor rankings in various health categories.

At the meeting and during a recent interview, Scalise said some of the statistics are alarming.

“I’m satisfied with the people that are at the table, there’s a good quality and a good mix of people that are part of the task force,” Scalise told MetroNews in late April. “I’m not satisfied with the statistics. Being number one usually should be a good thing, but being number one in some of the things Dr. (Rahul) Gupta talked about, we have to fix those issues.”

Scalise also stressed that public health funding must be bolstered, according to MetroNews.

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Earlier this year, Dr. Rahul Gupta, the state health officer, visited Fayette County. Scalise felt the visit allowed Gupta to familiarize himself with the operations of the Fayette department and acquaint himself with personnel at local hospitals and clinics and others in the public health spectrum.

"Our goal was educate Commissioner Gupta about the public health issues in Fayette County," Scalise said at the time of Gupta's visit. "It also gave everyone a chance to meet him face to face."

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The Fayette County Board of Health will meet Thursday, May 28 at 4 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Fayette County Health Department, 202 Church Street, Fayetteville.

All interested persons are invited to attend.

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