JoCo on the Go Podcast: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On episode #154 of JoCo on the Go, we will catch you up on the latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory report from Johnson County. The report details the levels of greenhouse gas emissions both at the county government level as well as the broader community. You’ll also learn about the county’s climate goals and some actions that will help achieve them. The complete report is available online.

JoCo on the Go Webcast: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Look for JoCo on the Go where you regularly listen to podcasts.


Time Subject
00:40 Introduction
03:58 What is a greenhouse gas inventory?
06:36 What the emissions report shows
11:35 Efforts to reduce emissions
14:17 Impact of COVID-19 pandemic
17:49 Biggest challenges ahead
21:17 How to view the report


Andy Hyland 0:00 

When it comes to sustainability, Johnson County's efforts are designed to help bring about economic, environmental and societal benefits for our community. A just-released greenhouse gas inventory helps county staff and the public see how close we are to meeting our goals. In this episode, we'll welcome some guests who can discuss the latest report on what the county is doing to hit its emission reduction goals.

Announcer 0:26 

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Andy Hyland 0:40

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host, Andy Hyland. I'm a Johnson County resident and I work in public affairs at Johnson County Government. We are here to talk about the latest greenhouse gas inventory in Johnson County and what it means for our community. Our guests today can help put that into confirmation into some context. And we're going to see how the community and Johnson County's own operations are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We'd like to welcome Brian Alferman, who's Johnson County Sustainability Program Manager. Welcome, Brian. And can you tell us a little bit about your role?

Brian Alferman 1:20 

Sure. Thanks, Andy. And thanks for having me. My role as sustainability manager for Johnson County is really a fun one. And I always say I've got the best job at the county. And it's really to lead our organization's sustainability efforts. But it's also to support all of our departments in their role in helping achieve some of our sustainability goals. And so in that capacity, I sort of serve as an internal consultant to the organization's operations. But another big part of my job that I enjoy a lot is representing Johnson County in our broader community and the regional efforts that go on and that I'm sure you'll hear about today. And in recognizing we're just a piece of our region as a whole. And I get the pleasure of representing Johnson County and some of those regional efforts.

Andy Hyland 2:10 

Wonderful. And next we have Stacy Seibert, Assistant Division Director of Maintenance for Johnson County. And Stacy, can you tell us what you do for the organization?

Stacy Seibert 2:20 

Yes, Andy, thank you. I work for the facilities department. I am Assistant Director of Maintenance. So I oversee a number of building engineers and I currently have about 16 buildings that I oversee. Those buildings are a vast variety of occupancy types. And then I also have the energy manager and energy management program that I help maintain.

Andy Hyland 2:50 

Wonderful. And finally, Tom Jacobs, Director of Environmental Programs for Mid-America Regional Council. Tom, welcome. And can you tell us about MARC and your role with that group?

Tom Jacobs 3:01 

Good morning, Andy. My role at MARC is to oversee our regional environmental programs. So it ranges from air and water quality to green infrastructure and ecosystem restoration. We talk a lot about placemaking. How do we create the kinds of places that are walkable and vibrant and healthy? We talk a lot about urban forestry, energy efficiency, solar, talk about bike lanes and climate resilience, where we work to bring communities together across our bi-state metro area to look for collaborative solutions on complex environmental problems.

Andy Hyland 3:45 

Great. And so thanks to all of you for being here again. But Brian, let's start with you. And so what is a greenhouse gas inventory? And why did Johnson County decide to undertake this effort?

Brian Alferman 3:57 

Sure, well, in its simplest terms, a greenhouse gas inventory simply quantifies the amount of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide that are released into our atmosphere within a defined boundary over a course of a year and identifies where they're coming from. So sectors like transportation and energy generation, wastewater treatment, decomposition of solid waste, and so forth. And we do this because we know that these gases are the main ingredient causing climate change, and reducing them is the key to slowing that change. And so we need to periodically measure these quantities and sources and determine the trends that we see and decide where to focus our resources to drive down those emissions. And this is the first one we've done since 2013 as Johnson County. So we were a little overdue on on updating this inventory. And it's been really interesting to see the results of that and see what's changed since 2013 and how we look as a community and as an organization, emissions-wise.

Andy Hyland 5:10 

Can you help remind us of Johnson County's stated goals in this work? And from an emission standpoint, where do we hope to be and when?

Brian Alferman 5:19 

Sure, well, Johnson County's commitment to reducing emissions goes way back to 2007. And the two major goals stated at that time were to reduce operations-level emissions just from our organization by 33% below 2005 levels by the year 2020. And then the other big goal that was stated was to reduce community-level emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. And we've since endorsed the Regional Climate Action Plan that challenges the entire region to be net zero by 2050, and local governments to be net zero by 2030. And so that's kind of our recommitment to those goals, and kind of raising the bar for where we need to be, given some of the recent information that scientists continue to gather on what our status is and what the impacts of not reducing emissions can be.

Andy Hyland 6:23 

And so I understand the report took a look both at Johnson County's own operations and also the broader community's emissions. So what did the report show on a high level?

Brian Alferman 6:36 

Yeah, so as I mentioned briefly, we inventory both the entire Johnson County community, which means all emitting activities taking place in the county, and then just the emissions of Johnson County Government's operations, because that's what we have the most control over, our own organization. And the high level findings showed a 30% reduction in the community's emissions since our last inventory in 2013. And most of that is from improvements in how our electricity is generated. Moving away from from coal-generated electricity, specifically. And the more progress we make in that area, that moves the needle pretty well. We're still at roughly about a third of our emissions coming from transportation sector and about two thirds coming from the built environment, how we heat and cool our houses and buildings, which is fairly consistent with most inventories. Operationally, we saw a 9% increase in our emissions over 2013, which is obviously the wrong direction. But it's a reflection of a fast-growing community, like Johnson County and our organization's need to serve that growing population. And so it's a response to that growth. And the good news is, though, and I'm sure Stacy will touch on this, is that growth has been pretty efficient, operationally, for our organization, and our square footage has increased greatly since 2013. But our our usage of resources has risen very, very slowly comparatively to that growth. And I'm sure Stacy will touch on that a little bit more. But yeah, so lowering in the community level emissions and rising a little bit on the operations emissions.

Andy Hyland 8:30 

Well, let's get to that a little bit, Stacy. So I want to talk a little bit about one of the ways that Johnson County is actually putting some of this into practice. And can you describe maybe how sustainability has an impact on what you do?

Stacy Seibert 8:46 

Sure. So we've been able to improve the lighting and the building equipment, and we're able to spend less time to maintain that equipment while reducing energy. And this really has a positive impact on the visitors, the clients, the employees that we see every day in our buildings.

Andy Hyland 9:10 

And so maybe you could talk about a little bit of where you see some of the biggest strides in your work over the last couple of years or so, or however long you've experienced some of this?

Stacy Seibert 9:23 

Sure. So the energy improvements that we've done has really helped with the comfort that we provide for those visitors, employees and clients. And it really truly helps the indoor air quality. And so when you're inside one of the Johnson County buildings, it is definitely a lot more comfortable environment while reducing the energy usage.

Andy Hyland 9:50 

I think in addition to being good for the environment, it also has benefits for the financial bottom line, right, when we undertake some of these efforts?

Stacy Seibert 10:00 

Exactly, like Brian indicated, we've been able to expand the square footages of the buildings and expand the number of services that we provide for the Johnson County residents while still maintaining a normal operating budget. And so we have not been able to ask for additional funds for utilities by improving the energy efficiency of those buildings.

Andy Hyland 10:27 

And maybe Tom, if you could help for us, you work with a lot of environmental programs I think all across our region. And maybe you can talk a little bit about what a report like this can do for our broader community efforts.

Tom Jacobs 10:45 

This report is really foundational in a lot of ways, right? We have big aspirations, we're trying to create a resilient and sustainable community, right? So how do we know if we're getting there? By measuring our progress, we can figure out where we are and where we need to go. We're doing similar sorts of measurements at the regional scale. And by having the ability to track, you know, across a nine-county area or across Johnson County really gives us a sense about where we need to focus, how we can improve, how we can work together to get there. So this sort of effort is just crucial up along the path to help us get where we need to go.

Andy Hyland 11:26 

Then can you talk about some of those broader regional efforts a little bit more and how maybe our efforts in Johnson County fit into that bigger picture?

Tom Jacobs 11:34 

Of course. So as we look at a regional greenhouse gas emissions profile, we see that, just like Brian said, the regional trends are the same as they are in Johnson County, about a third of our emissions come from transportation, and just over 60% coming from using energy and buildings. And so on the transportation side, we have a regional transit plan, we have a regional bike plan, we have a regional greenway plan. There's huge investments in trying to advance these kinds of activities that really reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. We're trying to build more compact, walkable, transit-oriented, mixed-use communities that are well canopied, that are efficient, that have fewer urban heat islands. And there's efforts like this taking place across the entire metro. We're running a program called Planning Sustainable Places that since its inception has funded 90 projects from Louisburg's Main Street to downtown Parkville to downtown Overland Park, across the whole metro, and we're trying to figure out how can our development patterns or land use and transportation and environmental planning really help us on a path to reduce emissions and create sustainability and resilience?

Andy Hyland 12:51 

So when you see a report like this from Johnson County, what stands out to you? And well, what do you pull out of it for your own efforts?

Tom Jacobs 13:00 

Well, what we do at MARC is we work with communities from throughout our metro to find out how we can work together to achieve our shared goals. And so we might establish regional goals. But all of those things are predicated on local support and local action. And so Johnson County is just doing an extraordinary job on this whole range of sustainability programs. And it creates a basis for progress not only in Johnson County, but region-wide, right? Johnson County has claimed a leadership position in our metro area. And it's helping all of us better appreciate what kinds of data, what kinds of programs, what kinds of policies might help move the needle and help us become a more resilient place.

Andy Hyland 13:50 

That's great to hear. I appreciate that feedback and context for, I think, on where these efforts fit in, in the broader community. Brian, one question I had about this report, I noticed that this report was done in 2020, right smack in the middle of the COVID pandemic. And I wonder what impact that may have had on some of these findings?

Brian Alferman 14:17 

Right, right. Well, we started this data gathering exercise in early '22. But the last full year we had of data was 2020. So we had to use 2020 as our as our most current year and yeah, anything with the date 2020 on it, the first question that pops up is what effect did COVID have? And really most of that was seen in the transportation sector. If you recall, nobody was driving, nobody was flying. Everything came to a screeching halt fairly quickly in the transportation sector specifically, and most of the energy usage shifted from a commercial setting to a residential setting as a lot of people worked from home. So not much impact there. But operationally, our energy usage didn't change much, because our buildings still needed to operate, they still needed to function. We provide community services. And so even if they weren't full of staff, they still needed to be maintained, they still needed to be operational. So we didn't see much of a change in that respect. But yeah, we did our best to take into account the oddity of 2020 and the impact of COVID and try to make adjustments where we could where we knew some of the data. But it was an odd year. And I think the emissions inventory reflected that to some extent. But really, it's a snapshot in time. And 2020 is something that happened, and we were able to track it from an emissions standpoint. So it was interesting in that respect.

Andy Hyland 15:56

Very good. So what challenges does this report show for us? Where do we, as a county, as a region, where do we still have work to do?

Brian Alferman 16:06 

Well, I like to look at the trends, of course, are interesting. And when we look at what we're on track for from a community level, we're on track for about an 84% reduction by 2050. And if you recall, one of our stated goals was 80% by 2050. And our new reset goal is net zero by 2050. So on one hand, we can say, "Well, we might very well achieve the goals we set in 2007. But we're not going to achieve the goals, we're not on track to achieve the goals we set just a couple of years ago, which raise that bar." So I look at that. Operationally, if we include our commitment to Evergy's Renewables Direct Program, which is to buy most of our electricity from renewable wind, we're down about 25% from our 2005 levels. And if you recall, our goal was 33% by 2020. So we're short of that goal there. So some work to do on that level. But what I think about mostly is our need to be able to do more than one thing at a time. We need to continue reducing emissions as quickly as possible, while also adapting to the impacts that we're already seeing about climate change, that we're experiencing right now. Extreme heat, drought flooding, there are very personal level impacts that we're experiencing, that we need to be responding to as well. And we need to keep focus on that at the same time.

Andy Hyland 17:41 

What about the other two of you, too, where do you see the biggest challenges ahead for this work? Tom, maybe you can go first.

Tom Jacobs 17:49  

And so collectively, there's a lot of energy around town to focus on lots of issues, whether it's recycling and reuse, or composting, or it's on alternative forms of transportation, thinking about urban agriculture, thinking about rain gardens, tree planting, of course, the transportation and building energy efficiency pieces and renewable energy. So there's a huge amount of energy that's in place, we can feel momentum building. So in my mind, we're trying to create more energy and more momentum to be able to work together smarter, to achieve big goals. It's really hard. As Brian said, the county's done so much, and yet, it still has more work to do. And that would be true anywhere in the world, really. And so we're on that path. And we're trying to roll up our sleeves. We're trying to figure out how to how to do this together, how to do it in ways that not just reduce emissions, but create health, right? Create jobs, create vitality, create quality of life. And there's equations inside of all of this work in which we think we can really fire on all cylinders, where we reduce emissions, we're adapting to change. And we're achieving the goals that we've already set out for ourselves around quality of life and livability and health and economic vitality.

Andy Hyland 19:16 

Great context. Thank you. And Stacy, maybe you could talk about, too, the challenges ahead for your own work as you think about what's coming up in the years ahead.

Stacy Seibert 19:28 

Yeah, so we have a tendency to have traditional ways of conducting business and looking outside the box and when you look outside the box, sometimes it's hard to convince people to think differently on how you conduct business. And in some of the newer technologies, it's not well put in place and so it can be challenging to move a mountain.

Andy Hyland 20:00 

Indeed, indeed. I think moving mountains is kind of the nature of the work here for all of us. And I think, certainly, I want to thank everybody for taking the time today to come up and take a look at this report and taking a deeper dive into some of what it says. Is there anything else we should know about this important report from anybody else? Anything that anybody would like to say?

Brian Alferman 20:29 

Well, I'll just say there's a lot more in this report than we were able to touch on today. And I'd encourage people to check it out. We intentionally tried to make it concise and digestible for just about anybody to consume. There are some challenges that are pointed out in the report. But there's certainly some guidance in what folks can undertake for us to make improvements in this area. And so I would encourage folks to check the report out. We've made it for you. And we're always looking for feedback and follow up questions and ideas on how we should be taking action based on this effort.

Andy Hyland 21:12 

And so Brian, if people want to see it, where can they do that? And how do they get access to it?

Brian Alferman 21:17 

Well, the easiest is to go to, the county's website. Do a search for GHG. It'll be the first result that pops up. And also encourage folks to find our sustainability guide on the website. You can search for that. And that goes into more detail about some of our sustainability efforts, internally and externally. And the emissions report can be found at the bottom of that guide, as well.

Tom Jacobs 21:41 

To piggyback a little bit on Brian's comments, right? We're trying to spur action, whether that's at the county or community-wide level, and there's so many opportunities to do that. So each of us in our individual households can identify lots of opportunities to do better. I feel like I live a very environmentally conscious life. And yet, I just determined that my personal greenhouse gas emissions are at about 17 tons per year, which is half of the community average. That's still considerable right? And maybe 10 times what you'd see in a place like Bangladesh. So with that in mind, how can I walk more? How can I bike more? Can I recycle better? Can I can I heat and cool my home with renewable energy? Can I eat a healthier diet? There's so many opportunities just at the household level. And then scaling up, right? All of us, when we go to work, when we participate in different community organizations, there's opportunities to identify, you know, ways for folks to work together at that level. And of course, folks can get involved in their local communities, right? Most of our local communities now are launching or considering how to frame up a response to the sorts of data and to create climate resilience and sustainability-focused action. And so getting involved in those kinds of things is just invaluable because we're trying to figure this out. It's not easy, and we need help from everybody to do it.

Andy Hyland 22:34 

Well, thanks again. Thanks again to you, Tom and Brian and Stacy and all of you, for taking some time to share with us the important nature of this work.

Brian Alferman 23:33 

Thanks for having us.

Andy Hyland 23:34 

So as we wrap up, let's take some time to summarize a few items we learned and where to learn more. Johnson County just released its latest greenhouse gas inventory report. It covers the year 2020. And it's a first look at how we measure up since 2013. The county has endorsed regional goals to reduce local government operations to net zero by 2030 and the community's emissions to net zero by 2050. The county has already taken steps to reduce its emissions, allowing it to expand its building square footage and services, while reducing energy usage while maintaining a normal operating budget. The report also provides a roadmap to achieve shared goals with regional partners. You can look at the report at and search for GHG. It's the first thing that should pop up there. And you can also find it on the sustainability guide on the county's website. Thank you again for joining us.

Announcer 24:41 

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at jocogov. For more on this podcast, visit Thanks for listening.

Andy Hyland 0:00 

This week is National Nurses Week, a time when our country takes time to recognize the vital role that nurses play. Here too in Johnson County, nurses are essential to the work of many county services. Whether it's in mental health, one of the county's health clinics or in the county support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, you'll often find nurses on the frontlines of these efforts. On this episode, we'll welcome some nurses who will tell us about their important work. And we will discuss how critical nurses are in helping the county provide these services to its constituents.

Announcer 0:41 

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Andy Hyland 0:56 

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host, Andy Hyland. I am a Johnson County resident and I work in communications at Johnson County Government. And we're here to celebrate National Nurses Week. And we're being joined by a variety of guests, including two nurses who work in our Department of Health and Environment. Barb Thompson and Dawn Mangan, welcome to both of you.

Dawn Mangan 1:23 

Thank you.

Barb Thompson 1:24 

Thank you.

Andy Hyland 1:24 

We're here to talk a little bit about your work and why it's so important. And so why don't we start? Why don't the two of you just introduce yourselves and what you do for the county?

Dawn Mangan 1:34 

Okay. My name is Dawn Mangan. And I am the Outreach Program Manager in the Community Health Division of Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

Barb Thompson 1:45 

And I'm Barb Thompson, registered nurse, and I work in community health as well at the Department of Health and Environment. And I'm an outreach nurse, which means I go out in the community and make visits to senior adults in the community.

Andy Hyland 1:59 

Wonderful, and so...Barb, why don't you start and talk about why did you get into this field? What was it that attracted you to the work?

Barb Thompson 2:09 

Well, and Dawn knows this, because she's the one that called me and said there's a job opening. We worked together years ago as nurses in an office. And I've always had a passion for senior adults. I love listening to their stories. I love that they were raised in the community and have all these stories, like from World War I, World War II, things like that. But yeah, so there was an opening for a senior adult nurse. And Dawn called and said, "Hey, there's an opening here." And I was working at a cardiology office, and I came right over, got the job. And I've been here 17 years, and it's the best job ever.

Andy Hyland 2:47 

Wonderful. And what about you, Dawn?

Dawn Mangan 2:50 

Well, I started out actually in social work. And then had always been interested in the medical field, and started working in a clinic because that actually paid more than the social work position. And I was, you know, a young mom, and I decided that I still had an interest in the medical field. So I went back to school into nursing. And this is really going to date, date meet. But believe it or not, when I graduated, they weren't hiring new grads in the hospital, unless you had at least a year of experience. That's no longer the case. So I kind of went a different direction, and started getting more into the health education piece of it and became really interested in women's health. So I started off with Department of Health and Environment as an immunization nurse and did that for about six months, and then became a mother baby outreach nurse. And now I'm the program manager for outreach.

Andy Hyland 3:53 

Wonderful. And I think, you know, one of the things I can just tell from our conversation already, the wide variety of things that nurses do, you know, there's just a whole bunch of different stuff. Why don't you tell me what is rewarding about your particular area? And what do you find most rewarding about your work? Whichever one you would like to start.

Dawn Mangan 4:16 

Well, I, you know, I've been with the county as an outreach nurse for 20 years. And something that I really have recognized is the importance of getting into people's homes. And recognizing that that is a huge part of their health, in general, is assessing their environment. And we, a lot of times, we'll work with low-income families. And so just, you know, getting into the home, making assessments and maybe connecting them with other resources that we've identified that there is a need for is just...has been very rewarding. And when I first started in nursing school, you know, you kind of just have that frame of mind that it's hospital and clinical nursing. And it's actually so much more. So.

Andy Hyland 5:12 

So Barb, why don't you tell me about your favorite part of the job?

Barb Thompson 5:16 

I was a medical assistant for 17 years working for various doctors around the Kansas City metro area. And then I became a nurse later in life. And I'm so glad I did it. I have to tell you, I've always wanted to be in the medical field when I was growing up. Every Halloween, I would dress up like Florence Nightingale, and my mother would say, "Do you want to be like, astronaut or something?" I don't know, anyway. "No, I want to be Florence Nightingale." So anyway, I always had this idea of helping people out, making a difference. I know that sounds like everyone says that, but it's really true. And Dawn will say the same thing, I think. So the most important part of my job as a nurse, public health nurse, is we do various things. Like we were doing COVID vaccines, testing. COVID hotline, just in it. Actually, it was very stressful, but it was so rewarding. Giving those shots in those arms was amazing. And then fast forward, and when we stopped doing that, we got to go back to our other jobs where I make home visits to senior adults, and just going into people's homes, and seeing their environment like Dawn said, and to see if there's any fall risk or just connecting those clients with physicians or any resources, either be a Johnson county agency or private practice or private agency, just to make their life better. Sometimes, when I go into people's homes, I have an agenda in my mind. But when I go there, I have to kind of meet them where they're at, if they're having back pain that they didn't have before, I have to figure out, alright, let's figure out how to help them out. What kind of resources can I use? But so there's actually two things that are my favorite part of the job is being one-on-one with these elder adults with their stories and just beautiful stories I get to hear. It's amazing. And then the other is connecting with all the resources, like Area Agency on Aging, mental health, just private agency as well to connect these clients. And just appreciation. People are so appreciative just for the nurse to come to the home to talk to them, and there's no hurry for me. I don't have to rush through an appointment. Because sometimes the nurses, the NFP nurses, which is the Nurse Family Partnership that they see mother baby clients, they take their time as well. And there''s really important, I think, don't you think, Dawn, that they don't rush to their appointment that?

Dawn Mangan 7:56 

I think with these home visits, too, it's more of a therapeutic relationship. And not, you know, it's not an acute situation. It's an ongoing relationship, because we do tend to see them for an, you know, a lot of clients on an ongoing basis. So, as an outreach nurse, I've also worked in the clinic. And so people coming into the clinic may not disclose a lot of information that you can assess when you go into the home. I've been into homes where you walk in, and there's no furniture and very little food. And so getting people connected with resources that can help is extremely rewarding. And then when you go back and look at their chart, you don't see any information that's been disclosed in the clinic about some of the needs that they may have. And then also just, I was a mother baby nurse, you know, seeing these women in, you know, the first week or two after they deliver. Because often times, you know, they'll deliver their baby, and they've been seen weekly up until that point. And then they're given a postpartum exam appointment. And there's that whole gap of six weeks where they may have an issue, they may have a problem. They're not, you know, they're not going into the clinic for an appointment. And so the nurse will come to their home and weigh their baby, do a brief exam, do a postpartum exam. And that was really rewarding for me as an outreach nurse, especially if you identify a problem or an issue that may not have been caught.

Andy Hyland 9:47 

Wonderful. Well, thank you. I think one of the things that Nurses Week is all about is saying thanks, and thanks to you both for all the work that you do. And it really makes me think, what is the best way for people to say thank you to you if you're out doing your work? What's the best way for people to express appreciation?

Dawn Mangan 10:08 

You know, I, for me, just when people say thank you. I mean, I'm thinking about going through COVID. And in the beginning, when we just didn't really know a lot, and there were...people were so angry. That was difficult. But then the people that were thankful for whatever information we could provide, and then when we started vaccinating people just the thanks that we got just made you feel so good. So I think it's just the verbal thank you is rewarding for us.

Barb Thompson 10:48 

I have to agree with Dawn, just the COVID...we had notes that were sent to us and just the gratitude and, you know, there's always going to be naysayers, but the gratitude way outweighs the naysayers, and that was appreciative. And in my regular day-to-day job, if I see a client and I talked to them about a resource or educate them about their blood pressure, and they actually do what I tell them, that's like, and I know, nurses will feel it, all nurses feel the same way. Like if you give advice to a client, and they follow through, that is wonderful in itself.

Dawn Mangan 11:30 

Exactly. Exactly. You know, and identifying a problem when you go in and realizing that it was a true problem that if you wouldn't have been there might not have been discovered, and then they get treated and the outcome is positive. That's just very rewarding that you made a difference. Yes.

Andy Hyland 11:53 

Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, that's, that's great. And we I guess, say thanks again, for all you do and for the county and for taking some time to talk with us here on National Nurses Week, which as I understand is correlated with Florence Nightingale's birthday. That's the Friday of this week, which I think is, you know, so I think that's a nice little tie-in to all of this, so...

Barb Thompson 12:21 

I won't wear my costume on Friday. I outgrew it.

Andy Hyland 12:25 

Very good. Good, good. Well, thanks again, to you, Barbara and Dawn, for taking the time and for visiting with us today.

Dawn Mangan 12:34 

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Andy Hyland 12:37 

So we are joined now by Shelly May, the deputy director of Johnson County Developmental Supports to talk a little bit about the important role that nurses play in your organization. So welcome, Shelly. And maybe we can start by you tell us a little bit about you and your role? And what Johnson County Developmental Supports does?

Shelly May 12:59 

Great. Alright. Thank you, Andy. So pleasure to be here with you today. Johnson County Developmental Supports provide services to residents in Johnson County who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. We serve almost 600 people with case management, day services, residential services, behavioral health and clinical services like our nursing department.

Andy Hyland 13:25 

So if maybe you could talk a little bit about what nurses do for Johnson County Developmental Supports, where in all your services do nurses engage?

Shelly May 13:36 

Alright, I would love to. So we could not do the work that we do without the support of our nursing department. As I said, we support individuals who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. And those services that we provide are provided by unlicensed staff, direct support professionals. So people who are in these roles are helping with daily living skills, recreation, employment, you know, residential skills, learning to live independently, work independently and play independently. So our nurses provide extensive training to our staff in regards to supporting people with their medications, so all of our staff do go through medication administration training. They also go through a nursing delegated task training, just to help with other kind of routine things that you or I would take care of, if we, you know, experience a disability, but the people that we support do need assistance with that. So our nurses provide that training to staff to ensure that people are living their healthiest lives possible. So a lot of focus on preventative health and wellness. And like I said, training. In addition to that, the nursing team really helps us with our policies and the way that we're structured, again, to ensure that people receive the highest quality of service, and again, the best health possible.

Andy Hyland 15:10 

Great, and maybe you can tell me, just how many nurses do you have? Just about an estimate maybe of how many folks you have working for you?

Shelly May 15:18 

Very easy to do. We have four nurses that provide all of that support to our staff. So the team is led by a registered nurse. And then we have three LPNs that work under her. The unique situation for developmental disability services is that they are our only licensed staff that work for us, is our nursing staff. And the support that they provide actually falls under their license. So again, unique in that, professionally, they have a lot of responsibility, because the services that we provide tie back to their license, because they're ensuring that the direct care staff that we have are following all the procedures correctly, that they understand what they're doing. And again, just that people's health is being protected.

Andy Hyland 16:15 

And I think, so obviously, this is National Nurses Week. That's why we're here. So I think part of that is just maybe appreciating all the work that they do. So maybe you could tell me...we've touched on a few of them here. But why are why are these nurses just so important to what you do?

Shelly May 16:35 

Well, I think what draws the nurses to working with JCDS and with this population is that, kind of opposed to other clinical settings, you really develop a relationship with the people that you're supporting. And so, you know, in other kinds of places, you kind of's kind of like you, you get to know somebody, you treat them, and then they're released, and you might not ever see them again. Whereas here, you know, you really get to follow that person, like, throughout their lifespan. And so their support and knowledge is just so important to ensuring that sometimes the complex medical support needs that people have, that those nurses are engaged. Everybody in our agency, we have 311 staff within JCDS. Everybody knows our nurses. Everybody is engaged with them. They're engaged with all of our staff. And of course, all the people that we support. They really look to the nurses as, you know, kind of their first line, you know, even sometimes more trusted than their doctors and other medical professionals because they have such a deep relationship with the nurses that work here.

Andy Hyland 17:52 

Well, thank you, Shelly. I think it's a great example of the critical work that nurses do, not just in Johnson County Developmental Supports, but across the whole organization. And I appreciate you taking some time to share with us what they do for you all and for our whole group. So thanks for taking the time.

Shelly May 18:12 

I did want to just brag on our nurses for a minute, especially our lead nurse, Erica Burroughs. Not only is she an expert in being a registered nurse and in the healthcare field, she also has an additional level of certification through the Developmental Disabilities Nurses Association. So she also has extensive knowledge and training specific to supporting people who have developmental disabilities. And it's something that we support all of our nursing staff to get. So we have really just a well-trained, knowledgeable team here at JCDS. And we truly appreciate what they do, not only for our organization, the families we support, but most importantly, for the people who receive our services.

Andy Hyland 19:01 

That's great. And so thank you again so much for taking the time to talk through some of it with us. We certainly do appreciate them. And we appreciate you. So thank you very much.

Shelly May 19:11 

Thank you, Andy.

Andy Hyland 19:13 

Thanks to all of our guests for sharing such good information today. Just to summarize a few items we covered and where to learn more. Our nurses perform a myriad of services. We heard from some who do outreach services for new moms and senior adults, but they also provide services for mental health and our work supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more about Johnson County's outreach nurse home visiting program for older adults, visit the Department of Health and Environment's website. Thank you.

Announcer 19:46 

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at jocogov. For more on this podcast, visit Thanks for listening.

Health and Environment