Health Dept. Director gives notice to commission


The Marion County Board of Commissioners met on Monday for their weekly meeting. One of the most informative portions of the meeting was the time with Marion County Health Department Director Diedre Serene particularly when she asked for an executive session time. During the session, Serene resigned her position.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the residents of Marion County through my position at the health department. Thank you,” said Serene in a resignation letter addressed to the board.

Chairman Randy Dallke thanked Serene and her department publicly for their work especially the past year during the pandemic. The board then voted to accept her resignation.

Serene’s last day is Sept. 20.

Earlier in the meeting, prior to the executive session, Serene announced that as 7:30 a.m., the number of COVID-19 positive cases had risen to 25 (by the end of the day, that number rose even higher to 27).

Serene explained that they have booster shots available for those who are immune compromised for both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines. She explained that there a difference between an additional dose and a booster dose.

“These are considered an additional dose, because those who are immune suppressed probably did not develop the antibodies to the vaccine. We are thinking they never developed that so they are needing the additional dose. Once we talk about booster doses, which should be available on Sept. 20, those are for healthy individuals who have developed antibodies to the first two doses,” said Serene.

Serene also clarified that while you can interchange the vaccine boosts, it is best to stick with the one you originally got.

“If you started with Moderna, you should stay with that, and if you started with Pfizer, you should stay with that,” said Serene. “It is not yet known what the criteria for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be.”

Serene said they do still have Johnson & Johnson vaccine available and have been having people from other counties come to get it. She reported that they have also seen a large increase in vaccinations since the Delta Variant became an issue.

“Oh, yeah. We used to get about 20 vaccinations a week. Now we are getting 26 to 32 a day when we do vaccinations,” she said. “And we are still doing lots of testing. KDHE has been coming daily to pick up samples for the lab.”

Serene also informed the board that they are seeing that the people who are vaccinated who are testing positive are typically showing up as asymptomatic.

She stated that each school has different policies with masking and social distancing, but all school buses have a federal mask mandate that must be followed.

Serene asked if the board would like to pay for flu shots for uninsured county employees and their immediate families in order to keep employees healthier during the flu season.

Commissioner Kent Becker said no and made a motion to only pay for the employee. Commissioner Jonah Gehring seconded the motion. The motion failed 2-3.

Commissioner Dave Mueller made a motion to pay for uninsured county employees and their immediate family (living in household) to get the flu shot paid for by the county. Commissioner Dave Crofoot seconded. The motion passed 3-2, with Gehring and Becker against.

Courthouse Security

The board met for an additional morning session in order to discuss courthouse security. No decisions were made during the work session, but they did continue the work session into the afternoon, where decisions were made.

The board approved the hire of a security guard at $40 an hour.

In other business, the board approved a resolution for a county land bank.

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