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Local health departments to offer inspection reports online

By Sharahn D. Boykin - Staff Writer

Local food consumers can now access health inspection reports on the Greene County Combined Health District website.

“It gives a snapshot for an individual in regards to what they may see when they’re going into a restaurant,” said Deborah Leopold, the Greene County Combined Health District environmental health director. “

Restaurant, convenience and grocery stores and other licensed food facility inspections the department has conducted starting in January have been available on the health district’s website www.gchd.org since July 2.

Reports prior to 2013 can be reviewed in person at the health district office located at 360 Wilson Drive in Xenia.

Four and a half county health inspectors, armed with laptop computers, inspect an estimated 800 food-related businesses and organizations about twice a year, according to the health district. These electronic reports are completed on site at the food establishment and uploaded online once a week.

Leopold said that “… when we go into a facility, that’s a snapshot in time… it can be good. It can be bad, but that doesn’t say the facility is always good or bad.”

Providing online public access to the inspection reports was part of a five-year strategic plan the health district developed with the community.

In the future, the department plans to make other inspection reports, such as swimming pools and summer camps, available online, Leopold said.

The health district spent about $6,500, which includes laptop computers and software, to make the reports available online, Leopold said.

The website also allows consumers to file a complaint with the health department online.

Greene County is one of several counties across the state to make these records available to the public online. Last year the Ohio Department of Health started offering local health departments the option to purchase software licenses for a state software program that would allow them to post data about licenses and inspections online. The new system was launched in June, and 74 of the 125 local health departments are using the system, according to the state health department.

“It’s been talked about for many years,” said Jamie Higley, the Ohio Department of Health food program manager. “Finally in the last couple of years, it has received the support of our administration and it’s received the funding. Our goal is to improve efficiency not only at the state level, but also the local level.”

Greene County opted to not use the state program.

“We decided to go with our own providers so that the data we collect is our data and not state data,” Leopold said.

Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County posts its health inspection reports online using its own system.

Warren and Miami counties have plans to move their inspections online by the end of the year using the state software system, according to the state health department.

“I can save the taxpayers of Warren County money and use state tax dollars on a system so we can be frugal,” said Duane Stansbury, the county health commissioner.

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