County public health programs rated ‘strong’ in state review

Audrey Caro

The Linn County Department of Health has many areas of strength, according to the state’s most recent triennial review of the department.

“This happens every three years and it is based on the intergovernmental agreement between the county and the state,” said Kimberly La Croix, of the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division.

She gave a presentation to the Linn County Commissioners at their March 21 meeting.

“We’re checking for compliance with state and federal regulations and we’re checking for compliance with public health funding,” La Croix said.

The on-site portion of the review was completed in October and November of 2017 and the report was completed in January.

The triennial review looks at 17 areas including administration, health officer, communicable disease and immunization.

“We really have the approach that we’re not out to get you or find things that you’re doing wrong,” La Croix said. “It’s really just an opportunity to find areas of improvement and areas of strength. It’s really a collaborative process.”

Linn County Health has “strong infrastructure for all public health programs and further program development” according to the report.

Todd Noble has been the Linn County Health Administrator since July of 2017, when Frank Moore retired.

“With his experience as a program manager for behavioral health, Todd is poised to foster enhanced integration between public health and mental health and to be a voice for collaborative efforts statewide,” La Croix said in her report.

Linn County, along with Lane, Benton and Lincoln counties received a grant for HIV early intervention funding and public health modernization.

The state’s effort of public health modernization stems from Oregon House Bill 3100 which was passed in 2015.

The goal is to “ensure basic public protections critical to the health of all in Oregon and future generations – including clean air, safe food and water, health promotion and prevention of diseases, and responding to new health threats,” according to La Croix’s report.

Health officer Dr. William Muth and communicable disease nurse Debby Uri have regular communication, according to the report. Muth also communicates regularly with health officers across the state and gives a monthly report to the commissioners.

“Communicable disease is doing an outstanding job in disease investigation and outbreak investigation,” according to La Croix’s report. “Debby Uri is a seasoned nurse epidemiologist.”

Immunizations was an area that was identified as needing improvements in inventory reconciliation and compliance with billing standards. Those areas were resolved in January.

The county health department is still working on area related to billing for vaccines.

There was “a little bit of a lag,” La Croix said because of the staff time needed to deal with meningococcal disease in Lebanon in January.

Commissioner Roger Nyquist asked about the process when the due date for an improvement to be implemented has passed.

“We work with you,” La Croix said. “We provide an extension.”