Editorial: Public health questions must be answeredNobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS) will officially split at the end of the year, but if Wednesday’s public health board meeting was any indication, that separation may as well have taken place already.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
Nobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS) will officially split at the end of the year, but if Wednesday’s public health board meeting was any indication, that separation may as well have taken place already.
There was not one Nobles County representative in attendance at the meeting, a circumstance that left Rock County folks frustrated. Rock County Administrator Kyle Oldre indicated there were many issues that required discussion in advance of the next scheduled NRCHS dissolution meeting in October, but without Nobles County participation, the result would be gridlock.
We should point out that Nobles County Commissioner David Benson had been excused from the meeting, as he was attending a statewide Community Health Services conference. But the other Nobles County commissioner on the NRCHS board, Marv Zylstra, was AWOL, as well as Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert.
Perhaps Zylstra and Ruppert had good reasons, too, to be gone. But that doesn’t mean Rock County should be left high and dry in its partnership with Nobles County when the two should still be working together — for three more months, anyway.
Arguably the biggest issue among the many plaguing the NRCHS involves uncertainty among its current staff.
As this newspaper reported in Thursday’s edition, “staff in the agency are foregoing some of their work to answer questions posed by Nobles County Human Services officials, as well as the public health supervisor, who has been hired to lead public health after Jan. 1. … In addition to trying to operate their WIC clinics, do immunizations, monitor tuberculosis cases and handle other day-to-day operations in the public health office, staff members are being asked to provide copies of contracts and grant agreements, explain the duties of their jobs and show the new public health supervisor how billing is handled.”
Unknown at this time are what kinds of public health services Nobles County will continue to provide after the NRCHS dissolution, along with the number of employees that will be on staff. One has to wonder if where the county is in planning for its future in this sector — or if it even has a plan.
Meanwhile, a lack of staffing at NRCHS recently forced the agency to return $7,200 in unspent grant dollars back to ClearWay, and more than $9,900 in public health preparedness grant funds. The loss of Nobles County’s sanitarian, who pursued another post when his future in his old job was essentially left in limbo, played a significant factor in that development.
It’s time for Nobles County to step up to the table — literally and figuratively — and provide answers, solutions and actions for the collective public health of its residents.