Public Health/Nursing Director Deb Rock brought three staff members on Feb. 5 to brief county commissioners on various programs, which affect low-income individuals.

Dietician Diane Sullivan spoke on the WIC (women, infants, and children's) supplemental nutrition program. She stated that 119 women, 140 infants and 220 children from Houston County utilized WIC from October 2011 through September 2012.

The program is funded by the USDA, funneled through the State of Minnesota. The dollar value of WIC food vouchers in Houston County totaled $192,700 in fiscal year (FY) 2011.

"We, in the Houston County WIC program, receive $13.50 per participant, per quarter with additional funding available if requested and approved for trainings and nutritional resources," Rock added.

"It has been documented in government and university research that WIC saves health care dollars. For every $1 spent on WIC, the government saves $1.92 to $4.21 in health care costs."

Health Educator Jesica Melde reported on the Peer Breastfeeding Support Program, which is funded through a supplemental WIC grant. Houston and Fillmore counties are joint participants in the effort. The latest grant (FY 13) totaled $54,754.

Melde said that Fillmore and Houston counties currently have 65 participants (counting pregnancies and breastfeeding mothers). There is only one "peer" on staff now, she added. "We will be working with human resources on hiring more," Melde stated.

Public Health Nurse Mary Zaffke spoke on the Family Home Visiting Nurse Program (FHV).

Houston and Fillmore counties state-provided FHV grant totaled $55,394 for FY 2013 with Houston County receiving 60 percent ($33,236).

Families with young children and the elderly receive home visits, Zaffke said. "I am one of the nurses who work with young families," she stated.

"When services are in place to catch children before they fall, they develop with a durable foundation, succeed and become part of the community," Zaffke said.

Problems to be headed off include low-birth-weight babies, drug and alcohol abuse, childhood hospitalizations, juvenile delinquency and more, she added.

Rock said that for every dollar invested in targeted home visiting $5.78 is saved on "higher cost treatment and deep end services."

For other news from this county board meeting, look elsewhere in this week's Herald.