ASHLAND — The Ashland County Health Department will create a new Facebook page with a redesign, health commissioner Vickie Taylor said during the health board meeting Tuesday.
“We’re going to kind of start fresh, with a new look and a new launch,” Taylor said.
The health department disabled its Facebook page in December 2021, and it has remained down since. Taylor said the timeline for when the health department will activate its new page remains to be determined.
“I’m working with other health departments to say, ‘what are you guys doing? How are you guys managing it?’ ” Taylor said.
In addition to announcing plans to relaunch the page, Taylor said the health department will hire a health educator/public information officer, who will help with in-person and online health education as well as be responsible for the website and social media.
Currently, the health department does not employ a public information officer to moderate social media.
Funding for this position will be drawn from two grants.
One funding stream will be a National Association of County and City Health Officials rural workforce development grant, which Taylor said the health department both applied for and received the week of April 4, 2022. Another source of funding will come from the Enhanced Operations 22 grant, which is COVID-19 funding from the state.
Taylor expects to receive the first of two installments of the NACCHO grant in January, and to receive the EO funding around August or September, she said.
“My goal is always to make sure that if we bring someone on through a grant that we can support them after the grant is over,” Taylor said. “That’s important to me, so I use that sparingly for staffing.”
Another difficulty with the currently disabled Facebook page is that it remains owned by an old health commissioner, Taylor said. In order to make a Facebook business page, it must be linked to a personal profile.
“What they’ve done is they’ve given permissions to people,” Taylor said, referring to staffing transitions, “but no one has the ability to make some major changes, because someone else actually owns it.”
The health department intends to create the new page using the health department email to avoid future ownership challenges, she said.
Ashland Source first learned why the health department disabled its page after obtaining a copy of messages between Taylor and Sarah Wells, an administrator of a public Facebook group called “Ashland Ohio Community Support for Covid-19.”
Taylor wrote to Wells that she was considering taking down the health department’s page because Facebook user Paul Miller had “crossed the line with his comments” and staff were beginning to get upset. When asked about Miller in an interview on Jan. 11, 2022, Taylor said the health department disabled the page partly because of Miller, but the main reason was staff did not have adequate time to moderate all public comments on the page.
When the health department relaunches its Facebook page, its redesign will correspond with the redesign of the health department overall, as it plans to move to a new location.
The health department is relocating its offices to an empty building, a former Rite Aid pharmacy, at 1211 Claremont Avenue. The county Board of Commissioners approved a resolution March 24 for the $845,000 purchase.
“At this point, the health department will be the only people in that building,” Taylor said Tuesday, but cautioned that that remains subject to change.