Hoffman to serve on health board

Health district administrator addresses “political tensions”

 

Last updated 12/22/2021 at 7:57am



Electric City Councilmember Cheryl Hoffman will represent the north part of Grant County on the Grant County Health District Board during the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Electric City council approved her appointment, along with Hartline Mayor Andrew Alsbrook as an alternate, at their Dec. 14 council meeting when Mayor Diane Kohout said she will send a letter appointing them as new representatives. 

To qualify, the representative should be an elected official or person who resides in Grand Coulee, Electric City, Hartline, or Coulee City. 

Five of the seven seats on the board became vacant because of terms ending, including that of Brad Parrish of Electric City, who served on the board for three years. 

“These board members served our community as exemplary public health advocates and led our agency through some of the most challenging times possible with professionalism and compassion,” Grant County Health District Administrator Theresa Adkinson said in a news release. 

The Electric City council also voted to continue to give GCHD a donation of $2 per citizen for 2022, with some hesitation. 

The council discussed having an issue with GCHD not providing services to the local area, something Hoffman could express at future health board meetings. 

“The role of the board of health members is to ensure state and local laws and rules are enforced; control and prevent disease; prevent and control nuisances; establish appropriate fees; establish the health district’s budget; appoint the local health officer and administrator,” GCHD Public Information Officer Misty Aguilar told The Star in an email. “Another important role is local community engagement on public health issues. The public turns to local boards of health as a resource of information, so by keeping up with public health issues and knowing how the health district is responding [board members] are able to be that local public health voice in their community as well as a local voice at the board of health.”

“The board of health is provided monthly updates on health district activities, provides feedback to staff, and may set or advocate for local public health policies, which may direct the health district and/or community,” she continued. “When there are public health emergencies, it is the responsibility of the health district and board of health to work together to ensure that immediate action is taken to prevent further health impact to communities and to prepare for future events by establishing agency and county policies addressing this issue.”

Adkinson responded to a question from The Star regarding how the board has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our board members have the opportunity to hear from our public health experts and take that information home to their communities,” Adkinson told The Star in an email Tuesday. “Often, they are the voice of ‘why’ public health is recommending or responding in the way that we are. They assist us with addressing misinformation being spread through social media and word of mouth. They also provide us feedback from their home communities, so that we can address their concerns with our response and messaging.” 

“It’s one of the most important partnerships for myself and Dr. Brzezny (Grant County Health Officer),” she continued. “I often hear their frustration with shutdowns, mandates etc. Let’s be fair, none of us have experienced a global pandemic and the tough sacrifices we must make both personally and professionally to protect our communities and loved ones. Unfortunately, public health and the pandemic have been dealt an additional challenge of addressing political tensions from many directions. As I often remind myself and the community, the virus is the enemy.”

The board meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Grant County Public Works meeting room in Ephrata, with meetings publicly accessible online via Zoom.

 

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