Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 12, 2017

Supervisors want to consider moving up date of Public Health transition

Nov 17, 2017

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Supervisor Marc Lindeen wants the county to consider moving up the transition of Public Health to county operations by Jan. 1, 2018, rather than waiting until the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2018.

Public Health currently resides under the Henry County Health Center (HCHC) umbrella, a relationship they have held for 30 years. Because of financial hardship, HCHC is ending their contract with Public Health. Public Health will continue to be run by the Public Health Board and will be overseen by Henry County Supervisors.

Lindeen proposed Public Health remove themselves from their contract with HCHC by the start of the new year rather than waiting until Henry County and HCHC’s fiscal year ends on June 30, 2018. Lindeen said it would be beneficial to Public Health employees to “start off fresh” at the start of the calendar year.

This proposal would have to be presented to the Board of Health for approval before moving forward.

Supervisor Greg Moeller voiced concern that this doesn’t give enough time for Public Health employees currently under HCHC to find other employment who may not want to start over as county employees.

“I’m not speaking for any of them, I’m just saying, some of these people who have been working (under Public Health’s schedule) four days a week, when they come over to the county to work 40 hours a week, it may or may not fit into their families,” Moeller said.

Henry County auditor Shelly Barber said that in conversations with Public Health Director Patti Sallee, she was mostly concerned with the benefits her employees would receive under the county and how those differ from benefits they receive as HCHC employees.

Barber said it makes no difference to her when Public Health operations transfer to the county, however, she reminded the supervisors that this means beginning to pay those employees benefits and paying the lease on the Public Health building.

“We’re planning for it in the budget to take effect July 1,” Barber said. “We only have (the money) we have right now. I don’t know that the county has the dollars with all we have going on to take (Public Health) by January 1.”

The Board of Health also has their work cut out for them before transitioning to county operations, such as restructuring the board. They are in the process of negotiating a lease agreement with HCHC for the space they currently occupy as operated by HCHC. Public Health will begin leasing the space and paying for the technology and IT support once they become county operated.

“Financially, I think the transition would be much smoother if we waited until our fiscal year starts,” Moeller said. “Also affords those employees, if they choose not to remain with Public Health, the opportunity to find other employment.”

Barber said the Board of Health needs to be in these conversations as the governing body of Public Health. Before moving forward, Public Health’s lease agreement with HCHC “needs to be ironed out” and questions surrounding health insurance and benefits need to be addressed.

Supervisor Gary See said the supervisors need to establish a list of questions and discuss it with the Board of Health in a public meeting before either party can move forward.

Barber said that once Public Health’s operations move to the county, they will have to move to adopt the Henry County Employee Handbook and will be run in similar fashion to the Conservation Department and Emergency Management, which also have their own boards.

“We have the purse strings, but when this rolls over, they have a board that controls them,” Barber said.

The supervisors are looking to attend the next Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, before continuing discussion.

“The Board of Health still is the reigning body here,” Moeller said. “They’re the ones who have to make the decision.”

“I want to keep the employees feeling that it’s a totally open situation,” See said. “Discussion is important. We need to know from the Board of Health what they want and what they expect.”

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