NRCHS dissolution process inches forwardWORTHINGTON — With just one more scheduled meeting of the Nobles-Rock Community Health Services board before the end of the year, many loose ends remain in the process to separate the joint public health department of Nobles and Rock counties.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — With just one more scheduled meeting of the Nobles-Rock Community Health Services board before the end of the year, many loose ends remain in the process to separate the joint public health department of Nobles and Rock counties.
On Wednesday, the NRCHS board met in Luverne for an update and more discussion on the process, however, they couldn’t accomplish much without a completed master agreement on the dissolution.
NRCHS Board Chairwoman Karen Pfeifer postponed a morning meeting of the dissolution committee Wednesday because attorneys for the agency hadn’t yet finished the paperwork.
A large share of Wednesday’s meeting was spent discussing the steps involved to get the NRCHS client files transferred from the existing PhDOC program to the new CHAMPS system Nobles County plans to convert to.
Rock County client data will also be transferred to CHAMPS, as that is the program used by Southwest Health and Human Services.
Pfeifer said Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative, which provides the PhDOC program, will meet Dec. 2 to take action on NRCHS’s request to withdraw from the cooperative and decide whether or not the client files will be transferred electronically to the CHAMPS system.
To aid in the transition, the NRCHS board on Wednesday appointed Nobles County Information Technology Director Kelly Kruse to represent NRCHS at the Dec. 2 meeting.
In other business, the board:
* Appointed Public Health Nurse Barb Navara to be the interim director and Community Health Services administrator for the agency. Navara replaces Cindy Frederickson, who was hired by Nobles County Community Services and began her duties there as a public health nurse on Nov. 1.
* Was provided an update on NRCHS contracting with three former employees who have taken positions with either Nobles County Community Services or SWHHS. In Rock County, Diane Boyenga will continue to work out of the public health office and is contracted with NRCHS through the remainder of the year, while working a few hours a week with SWHHS to aid in the transition. In Nobles County, Frederickson is contracted with NRCHS for up to eight hours per week to continue the public health preparedness efforts; while Stephanie Ross is contracted with NRCHS for 16 hours per week to work primarily with the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program.
* Received an update from NRCHS office manager Barb Bents about the agency. She said there’s still a lot of uncertainty on how things will be handled after Jan. 1, including what services will be offered and what phone number clients should call after Jan. 1.
“We haven’t been told where the offices will be,” Bents said.
Pfeifer said she was told the public health portion of Nobles County Community Services will be located in the NRCHS office space.
* Learned that $39,000 in unspent Statewide Health Improvement Plan grant dollars has been returned to the state, and that the SHIP fund is now at a zero balance for the remainder of the year.
* Was notified that Southwest Health and Human Services had extended an offer to Paula Bloemendaal, NRCHS public health educator, to join their agency as a tobacco coordinator/specialist. She would continue to work with Clear Way and SHIP grant dollars in that role.
* Learned that a Minnesota Department of Health official stopped at the Worthington office of NRCHS and collected all the records for food, beverage and lodging licensure. The state took over the service on Oct. 15.
* Discussed the idea of hosting a farewell gathering for current and former employees of NRCHS, along with county commissioners and past NRCHS advisory board members as they mark the end of the joint powers and splitting of the agency. Nothing was decided.