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KCHD to offer emergency preparedness app

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's first smartphone application, aimed at emergency preparedness, should be available for iPhone and Android devices within the next couple of weeks, health officials said.

Terradon Communications is building the app with the help of a $30,000 grant the health department received from the National Library of Medicine, said Krista Farley, director of health promotion and the health department's public information officer.

During a regular meeting of the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health Tuesday, Farley said she is proofing the final version of the app, which she hopes would be available within two weeks.

The app, which will be available for free, will target both the general public and emergency responders.

It will contain emergency contacts, emergency evacuation routes and information about how to get involved with the Capitol Medical Response Corp., a group of medical and non-medical volunteers who help respond during disasters, Farley said.

The grant funding allowed the health department to purchase software that officials there will use to design future apps, Farley said.

Also at the meeting, Anita Ray, the health department's director of environmental health, said that of the 84 restaurants that have been rated as a part of a health-rating pilot program, 46 have received excellent ratings, 31 received good ratings and seven got fair ratings.

The health department started the pilot program in South Charleston and the Corridor G area in August.

Under the system, health inspectors assign eateries a color-coded rating of excellent, good or fair based on the number of critical and non-critical violations it receives.

Health department officials plan to implement the program countywide beginning in March.

Ray said to date she's not received any written comments or phone calls providing feedback about the system. A couple of people have mentioned they like the rating system while visiting the health department, she said.

David Winowich, the sanitarian who's been inspecting restaurants for the pilot program, told Ray that representatives from six or seven restaurants had complained about the system because they received a low rating, Ray said.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the KCHD, said a lack of negative comments indicates that the public and restaurant owners have accepted the rating system.

The health department commended Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, for his efforts at getting the health rating system started. County Engineer John Luoni represented Carper at the meeting Tuesday. 

In other business, Susan Jordan, the health department's nurse supervisor, said that as of Friday, the health department had administered 4,446 flu vaccines so far this season. Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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