CANYON CITY – County officials say they’re close to working out a way to keep Community Counseling Solutions in charge of the county’s public health department.
County Commissioner Boyd Britton told the county’s budget committee last Friday the Court is hopeful that an infusion of general fund dollars will make it possible for the nonprofit to rebuild the department and continue managing it.
He lauded the research done by County Judge Scott Myers on how other counties are handling their public health departments. He noted that Grant County is one of two statewide that doesn’t contribute tax dollars to its public health operations.
Myers said counties on average pay about $9 per capita toward public health, which would mean an investment of $65,000 a year in Grant County.
Court members hope that will help keep CCS at the reins of the department. They said conversations with CCS officials have been encouraging.
The nonprofit’s board said last month said it was ready to give the public health department back to the County Court, citing a revenue gap left after the death of the clinic’s primary care provider, Tim Nielson. Officials say family nurse practitioner Karen Triplett, who was brought in to succeed him, is rebuilding the practice after a gap of several months. They expect revenue from primary care to rebound gradually.
CCS was looking at giving 90 days notice at the end of March, offering that as a chance to make the transition by the start of a new fiscal year. The notification would not affect the mental health department, which CCS has been running longer.
Court members, meanwhile, don’t want to take the health department back. Each has said CCS is better prepared to run a health agency.
“I don’t want to be running this baby,” stressed Commissioner Chris Labhart. “Even though we’re responsible for public health, I don’t think we should be running it.”
Myers said his intent in recent discussions with CCS has been “to stave off” the immediate cut-off and buy at least a year of time.
“I just would like to extend our relationship, instead of saying, ‘OK, let’s take it back,’” he said. “I think taking it back would be the worst thing we could do for the citizens of Grant County.”
Britton said the Court is looking at a two-year funding commitment, but he said he wasn’t sure that much would be needed.
He said there had been a lot of billing problems at the department in the past, and CCS is cleaning that situation up. He felt the department would continue to gain financial stability if CCS stays in charge.
“We’ve got a great team down there, and the Court feels it’s worth investing in,” Britton said.