Health on the horizon - Douglas County participating in five-county plan
A five-county public health department is being explored by Douglas, Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties.
The Horizon Community Health Board aims to integrate three public health departments included in the five counties.
The board formed a restructuring committee earlier in 2012. A commissioner from each county sits on the committee. Commissioner Jerry Johnson represents Douglas County.
"We need to mentally erase the county lines," said Douglas County Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs.
After meeting to identify the issues the counties would face in the merging process, the group conducted a side-by-side comparison of programs and services offered in each area and discussed governance.
Some areas of the county-wide plan would remain separate.
"We can eliminate county lines for everything except tax revenue," Johnson said.
Tubbs agreed that every county is going to have to contribute through county tax levy. That presents a challenge in equality.
"The smallest county is concerned with being swallowed up and the largest county is concerned with being financially responsible for the other counties," Tubbs said.
A similar structure exists under the Countryside Public Health service agency, which covers the counties of Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine.
"If we were to form a fully integrated five-county public health department, the Horizon Community Health Board structure composition would need to change," Tubbs said.
One change would be elimination of the public health department comprised of Stevens, Traverse and Grant counties.
Tubbs said that since the Horizon committee was formed, some efficiencies have already begun to be realized.
Horizon has meetings planned through August; after which time the board will present individual counties with a more comprehensive, but not final, plan.
2013 CARE SERVICES
Douglas County commissioners awarded Prime West with the 2013 contract to provide health care services to recipients of Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare in the county.
Prime West, Medica and Blue Plus submitted applications in response to a request for proposals to provide managed health care services in Douglas County. The Minnesota Department of Human Services devised a scoring system to evaluate the proposals.
Prime West scored a 41.45 out of 50 possible points. Out of seven categories, Medica surpassed Prime West by less than one point in two categories - mental health for children and transportation. Overall, Medica scored 31.14 and Blue Plus scored 23.46.
In regard to transportation, the commissioners approved Tubbs' request to trade in a 1999 Ford Taurus wagon with 130,000 miles for a 2012 Malibu with 2,000 miles from Alexandria Motors.
The Malibu cost $17,490; the dealer offered $1,000 for the trade. Tubbs said that was a generous offer. Commissioners authorized Tubbs to pursue an additional vehicle to replace the Dodge Intrepid that has 140,000 miles.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.