Health and school plans off to Council
Director seeks to digitize records
January 10, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Town Council will be voting tonight on a plan that may help Southbridge take another step into the 21st century — digital health.
Proposed by Health Director James Morin, the idea is not really as far-reaching as the name implies. Unlike President Barack Obama's similarly named objective announced this time last year, Morin's plan doesn't computerize medical records. It creates a centralized database for septic, restaurant, building and other health-related permits the town issues, online forms and complaints, and automates the overall process.
Among other things, Morin noted, such work is now being done by hand, so occasionally things fall through the cracks.
He'd like to encourage all local towns to join the system, which is run by a company of the same name, in large part because it would make a coordinated effort to address emergencies easier. Implementing it would take about three months, he added.
During the brief discussion of the idea at a Wednesday Education and Human Services Subcommittee meeting, Town Manager Christopher Clark said implementing the software system "makes [information] a lot more available" and includes what he dubbed "a tickler file" that sends out 30-day warnings of permit renewals. Morin didn't attend.
Once up and running (if the council approves the $5,000 startup cost and $1,500 per year operating cost), such a system might be able to help address one of Morin's bigger headaches — rundown property. Last month, for example, he formally condemned several condominiums on Mill Street that had been troublesome for months, mostly because they no longer had running water.
For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.