The Southern Nevada Health District (Health District) was created in 1962 pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 439 to combine the county and the cities’ health departments into one organization. Today, the Health District is one of the largest local public health organizations in the United States, serving more than 2.2 million residents with more than 750 employees. While many only know the Health District due to immunizations or food handler cards, the Health District issues over 20,000 food operation facilities permits, more 400 body art facilities, provides a wide variety of health care services, and much more. With the COVID-19 response entering its third year, Health District staff can refocus on public health, as a whole. To that end, the environmental health division of the Southern Nevada Health District has been diligently working behind the scenes and is ready to make updates to several regulations.
The first regulation update in 2022 are the Regulations Governing the Sanitation and Safety of Body Art Establishment. These regulations have already been publicly workshopped and are moving forward to seek District Board of Health approval, currently scheduled for March 24, 2022. The new version of the regulations is a combination of the prior existing Tattoo Regulations and Body Piercing Regulations, as well as the Model Body Art Code developed by the National Environmental Health Association and input for the regulated community through listening sessions, surveys, and the public workshops. Notable changes include standardization of jewelry, location and type of sanitizing equipment, proper disposal of biohazardous waste, size of workstation, sharing of handsinks, and improved documentation. For more details, please visit: https://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/permits-and-regulations/body-art/body-art-regulation-revisions/.
The last time that the Regulations Governing the Sanitation of Food Establishments were updated was 2010. There have been several substantial changes to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Model Food Code since that time and Health District staff are working on an update that will incorporate some of those changes. One area that Health District staff are working to add is a notice of violation process, which is an administrative hearing to assess penalties for failure to comply with the permitting process.
Public workshops are tentatively planned for June and July. Tentatively, the Health District staff are planning to bring the completed regulations to the District Board of Health for approval at the September 22, 2022 meeting. All permitted food establishments will receive notice of the regulations, business impact survey, and dates of public workshop. Those interested in receiving notices may email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be placed on the interested parties list for these regulations.
Other regulations that may be brought forward this calendar year include, the Individual Sewage Systems and Liquid Waste Management Regulations (residential septic tanks) and Regulations Governing the Sanitation and Safety of Public Accommodations Facilities (hotels/motels). New regulations addressing mobile home parks are also being worked on by staff.
One set of regulations already moving forward that is unrelated to environmental health is the Trauma System Regulations. The last update to the Trauma System Regulations was in 2015. However, in the 2019 Legislative session, a change in NRS 450B altered where a hospital enters the application process if it is seeking a designation as a Center for the Treatment of Trauma. Now, a hospital applies to the State HHS before applying to the Health District. This change, as well as changes for clarity, will be part of the Trauma System Regulations. A public workshop is scheduled for April 8, 2022, with a presentation to the Board of Health planned for May 26, 2022. More details available at: https://www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/news-info/public-notices/.
Since 2019, the Health District provides primary care services to medically underserved populations through its federally qualified healthcare center. The Health District’s Community Health Center provides comprehensive primary care health and wellness services to those who might not otherwise have access, as well as accepting over a dozen different insurance plans. To further assist patients, community partners are regularly on site to assist qualified individuals with applications for Medicaid and food-assistance programs. The Health District’s services to underserved populations will be expanding with the addition of an outpatient behavioral health clinic expected to open Summer 2022.
About this article: This article was originally published in the “Environmental Health” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (Apr. 2022). See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2022/communique-april-2022/.
About the authors
Heather Anderson-Fintak, Esq. has been with the Health District since 2012 and was promoted in 2021 to General Counsel. Previously, she spent ten years working in non-profit legal services in Nevada and Maryland. Heather is a director on the Clark County Bar Association’s Executive Board, a Girl Scout Troop leader, and a UNLV, Boyd School of Law, La Voz Huellas mentor.
Edward Wynder, Esq., the Southern Nevada Health District’s new Associate General Counsel, is a double UNLV grad with his law degree from William S. Boyd School of Law (’15) and a master degree from the UNLV School of Public Health (’11). Before law school, Edward was a health inspector at SNHD. He enjoys gardening, hiking, and is an avid rugby fan.
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