New public health supervisor hiredWORTHINGTON — As Nobles-Rock Community Health Services moves toward dissolving at the end of this year, Nobles County has hired Janet Howard to fill a newly created Public Health Supervisor position. She began her duties Aug. 10.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As Nobles-Rock Community Health Services moves toward dissolving at the end of this year, Nobles County has hired Janet Howard to fill a newly created Public Health Supervisor position. She began her duties Aug. 10.
The public health supervisor position was created as Nobles County moves forward with a single-county public health agency, and Rock County moves toward a joint collaboration with Southwest Health and Human Services (consisting of agencies in Lincoln, Lyon, Murray and Pipestone counties).
Howard, whose office is currently in Nobles County Family Services, will aid in the transition over the course of the next four months, and be ready to lead an estimated 10 staff people in the public health office as of Jan. 1, 2012.
The new agency — Nobles County Community Services — will encompass public health, family services and community corrections.
“I don’t have any real authority (over existing public health staff) until Nobles County is separate, because I’m hired by Nobles County,” Howard said on Monday. “In as much as I am able to facilitate a good transition, I will do that.”
A native of North Dakota, Howard graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in social work. She then worked in Macintosh County, N.D., before moving on to work for the state as a reviewer of long-term care facilities in a nine-county region in southcentral North Dakota.
In 1976, Howard moved to the Twin Cities and logged 24 years in community and public health.
She worked at two community clinics, and spent nearly 10 years with the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support as a coordinator for the maternal child health program.
Most recently, she worked as the director of public grants at Planned Parenthood Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota.
Howard said she has significant experience with different populations of color, and that is one of the things that attracted her to the job in Nobles County.
“I was very interested in returning to something in community or public health — I have the most passion for that kind of work,” she said. “Because of the job market, I really had to open myself up to possibilities of working outside the Twin Cities.”
While still settling into her new role, Howard said she anticipates she will assist with streamlining the office, engaging community partners and building upon the knowledge and experience of local staff.
“You really have to work with community partners — especially in a time of limited resources — to maximize what you can do and identify leaders in the community that can help do that,” she said.
Still, the agency will continue to provide the mandatory services the public is accustomed to.
“As long as we get public health funding from the state, we are obligated to provide all six essential services in the community,” Howard said. “We will definitely continue to provide what is needed in the community. If we need to work with community partners to help fulfill that obligation we will.”
Howard said she will also work to bring in additional grant funding for Nobles County’s public health agency.
On Monday, she submitted a letter of intent to the Statewide Health Improvement Plan for possible grant selection.
With SHIP dollars cut from $46 million last biennium to $15 million this biennium, she realizes those funding sources may be difficult to tap into.
“We will be exploring collaborative work with other county public health agencies,” she said.
Howard now resides in Luverne and enjoys reading, travel, cultural and artistic events, travel and nurturing her interest in spirituality.