Board of health discusses merging public health services with hospitals

RBC | The Rio Blanco County Board of Health meeting was led by Rio Blanco County Public Health Director Julie Drake and took place on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Rangely at 1:30 p.m.

In addition to the county commissioners, County Attorney Todd Starr, Tammy Dunker and Shelby Lindsay from Rangely Community Medical Health and Wellness Center, Pioneers Medical Center CEO Ken Harman and Dr. Albert Krueger attended the meeting.

Drake expressed concerns in light of the resignation of both of her nurses. She posed the question of pooling resources and imbedding the county clinical services responsibilities with Pioneers Medical Center and Rangely Community Medical Health and Wellness Center. She stated that she receives outreach and education money that could be used for both hospitals. Commissioner Rector and Pioneers CEO Ken Harman proposed to have Drake meet with both hospital boards to discuss moving the county vaccination walk-in clinic and transitioning the family planning responsibilities to both entities. Dr. Krueger interjected “that we should remember it is important to maintain access and not make it more difficult to receive these services.” Representatives from both facilities agreed that the children’s vaccination clinic responsibilities would be an easier transition than the family planning portion. Shelby Lindsay said, “It seemed that consolidating services is in the best interest of everyone involved.” The family planning program is funded entirely by the county.

Drake asked to be able to replace at least one of her two 32-hour per week nurse positions.  Commissioners Rector and Moyer gave their approval with the understanding  the position includes providing services to the Rio Blanco County Detention Center in addition to other duties.

Regarding the environmental piece of public health, Drake said she would like Rio Blanco County to develop their own “code of the west” such as Mesa County Public Health has done. Rio Blanco County can demonstrate that we are being proactive toward our carbon footprint and making a difference in areas where we can. This can also be used as a tool against regulations harmful to our way of life in Northwestern Colorado.  Moyer and Rector both agreed that the county needs to be able to show legislators that we are different from areas such as metro Denver in regard to things such as water and air quality.   

By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times