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S.L. health agency seeks Olympic funds
SLOC is asked to help pay expenses related to Games

The Salt Lake City-County Health Department wants Olympics planners to help out with expenses it will face concerning safety in the 2002 Winter Games.

"We've been working very hard to get our Olympics budget together," said Dr. Kathryn N. Vedder, the department's executive director. She spoke Thursday during the meeting of the Salt Lake City-County Board of Health.Gordon Lund, staff member in charge of preparations, said after the meeting the department is trying to identify likely costs and tell the Salt Lake Organizing Committee what they are in advance.

In addition, other counties in which Olympic events will be held or athletes housed -- Vedder called them venues and "venue-like things" -- will have expenses. These areas have banded together in a public health alliance funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate efforts.

What sorts of expenses might health agencies face?

Lund said the department should be concerned with the type of food served at venues and make sure that lodgings are safe and clean. Facilities for out-of-state news reporters, who may stay in the area for two or three months, should be clean and not too noisy.

The department and other agencies have been in daily contact with SLOC, he said. One of their concerns is to make sure that health regulations concerning a Winter Games venue in one community are similar to those in others.

Why bring this up to SLOC now rather than present a bill after the Games? Lund replied, "We want to be part of the planning so that they will recognize the health issues that are on the table."

The department wants to be part of the planning, he said. Regulators know where the venues will be, but they aren't sure what kind of food will be sold there, how many people to expect, what parking will be available or how many sanitation facilities will be needed.

"Disease outbreak is what we're concerned about," he said.

But such worries as a possible outbreak of salmonella aren't as visible as the concern about security, such as fires or terrorism. "What we're trying to get SLOC to realize is that when unforeseen things happen like that" the local health departments will need to step in.

The departments want to work themselves into SLOC's public safety budget, which may be as high as $28 million, he said. "Of course, our budget is minuscule" compared with fire and security, he added.

So far, the department isn't willing to talk publicly about its expected costs. "I'm not sure we'll be releasing these until they're final," said Jana Carlson-Kettering, spokeswoman for the department.

Patti Pavey, the department's deputy director, said figures may be available by the end of this year.

Jinny Borncamp, director of medical services for SLOC, said she and Dr. J. Brett Lazar have been working closely with the Environmental and Public Health Alliance. "There will be charges associated with the permitting process," she said.

Lazar is a volunteer who works with SLOC as a public health consultant, she added.

Carlson-Kettering also told board members about progress in developing an Internet site. The site, http://www.slchealth.org has registered 81,000 hits in the past two years.

The most popular item by far is food enforcement, which gathered about 6,500 hits in January and February.

Other pages maintained by the site tell people how to get replacement birth certificates and help people recognize disease symptoms.