Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Several issues including the Hill County Health Consortium were discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the Hill County Health Board, although no action was taken because only two of the board’s five voting members, Hill County Commissioners Mike Wendland and Kathy Bessette, were able to attend. The other voting members, Commissioner Mike Anderson, Dr. Katarina Latkovich and Kristi Kline, were not present. Riki Handstede, Hill County director of nursing, raised the issue of what role the Hill County Health Department should play in the Hill County Health Consortium, the creation of which was spearheaded by Cindy Smith, the former county director of nursing and now the executive director of the Bullhook Community Health Center. Handstede said that under Smith’s direction, the Health Department generally had organized and administered the meetings of the consortium, created as a loosely organized community entity to assess and address health care needs in the county. Handstede said the Health Department is not interested in continuing to serve in that capacity at this time, although it could in the future, especially if a process is established for different groups in the consortium to take turns organizing the meetings. The board also discussed establishing a regular meeting schedule and trying to ensure a quorum was present at future meetings. The last meeting the board had held was in January 2007. Hill County Sanitarian and Planner Clay Vincent said that due to the transition of Smith from the director of nursing position to the Bullhook director position and the hiring and starting of Handstede as the new director of nursing, no further meetings were held. Handstede said that the bylaws of the board require quarterly meetings, and proposed meeting on the third Wednesday of the month every three months, May 21, Aug. 20 and Nov. 19 for the rest of this year. The group also discussed adding More voting members to the board to increase the odds of a quorum being able to attend. The bylaws of the board require that it have at least five voting members, and would not have to be changed in order to add more members. In reports from the advisory body to the board, Andi Everingham of the Kids Management Authority, an entity of the Health Department addressing children’s need in mental health issues, said the KMA is now working with seven families in the area. The grant funding KMA received requires it to work with at least 12 families a year, which Everingham said she expects to exceed. She said the largest difficulty KMA is having is dealing with the lack of facilities available for children needing treatment for mental health issues, but it is having success. KMA is helping families find and use resources and facilities they were unable to utilize before, she said. Handstede and Karen Sloan, RN CNP, director of Hill County’s Family Planning, said a new policy dealing with sexually transmitted infections seems to be working well. Handstede said people asking for testing are first being referred to Family Planning if staff members are available, with referrals to registered nurses in the Health Department as necessary and further referrals to the patient’s care provider or to the Bullhook Community Medical Center as needed. Another change is the availability of rapid HIV infection testing, Handstede said, which can be administered at either Family Planning or the Health Department. Vincent said a concern of his is an apparent increase in animal bites in the city, and possibly the county although the reporting is lower there. “It seems like there need to be more teeth in the regulations,” Vincent said. “ I don’t know what to do about it, but it needs to be discussed.” Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said the county is in the process of reviewing its regulations on issues such as vicious dogs, and once the review is completed and presented to the commissioners any changes could also be discussed with the city.