Page 27 - Scene Magazine 45-09 September 2020
P. 27

   For Your Health
BY SHANAY A. SETTLES REHS, Senior Sanitarian
    However, behind the scenes, health departments throughout the country continue to ensure the restaurants you eat at remain safe. This is also true here in Calhoun County.
of questions about COVID-19, with the number one question being when they were going to be allowed to offer dine-in services.
As a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) had to eval- uate options for conducting essential food safety services while engaging in social distancing. Working together with our food establishments to ensure that cus- tomers are ordering safe food is critical. This need exists more during this event than any other emergency we have faced together. The obstacle CCPHD faced was how to conduct food safety inspections while engaging in social distancing. Our normal routine and follow-up inspections do not allow for social distancing and are not aligned with the parameters detailed in the Governor’s current Executive Orders. Through research, we decided to work
out a procedure to conduct inspections virtually.
Prior to returning to in-person in- spections, we asked the restaurants that participated in virtual inspections to complete a survey, giving their impres- sion of the process. The feedback from
the owners and managers was insightful. Owners and managers had the chance to be involved with the inspection process which helped increase the effectiveness of inspections. Owners and managers trained staff and provided hands-on training with their employees during the inspection and afterwards. Owners appreciated being inspected at different times instead of al- ways during breakfast or lunch shifts. This provided managers that worked evening
Since the COVID-19 public health emergency started, life has changed
for many of us. This also includes the way the Calhoun County Public Health Department serves our clients including by appointment only for clinical services, remotely serving WIC clients, and con- ducting virtual food safety inspections. No matter what the service, we want everyone to know we are still here
Initially, the virtual inspections had its share of troubles. Inspections took a bit longer than expected, due to Wi-Fi/ network connection issues and/or lack of cell phone service in basements and walk in coolers. However, we have been able
Most people probably know by now the impor- tance masks, hand washing, and social distancing play in prevent- ing the spread
of COVID-19.
to work through these kinks and provide a comprehensive inspection. Overall, owners and managers are grateful that we are continuing to check in and do their inspections. Naturally, there were tons
or weekend shifts the opportunity to go through the inspection process. One of the best examples of feedback spoke of the owners/managers expressing gratitude for going over COVID-19 related questions and being there for them not just as a regulatory agency, but work as a team and community to get through these unpre- dictable times.
COVID-19 Changes Restaurant Inspections
for you.
For questions about health department
services or to schedule an appointment, call (269) 969-6990 or visit us at www. or on Facebook at CCPublicHealthDepartment.
 A virtual inspection is an evaluation
of a food establishment conducted via a live video feed using a phone, tablet, or laptop. These inspections (i.e., pre-open- ing, complaint investigations, regular,
and follow-up) are completed remotely, with the intent of conducting in-person in- spections once it was safe and still within the parameters of the Governor’s current Executive Orders. Virtual inspections are an optimal way to minimize exposure to our staff and the public by providing so- cial distancing while conducting import- ant food establishment checks. CCPHD revised our inspection reports to focus on the high-risk factors (food and COVID-19 safety) while using the video conferencing services Apple Facetime and Zoom and got started right away.

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