Multicounty agreement targets common health issues

Jerrod Welch
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 21, 2017 9:40 am Updated: Apr. 21, 2017 10:35 am

QUINCY -- The Adams County Board of Health moved forward Thursday night with a multicounty agreement designed to address common problems.

The new Western Illinois Alliance covers the boards of health in Adams, Brown, Hancock, Pike and Schuyler counties and the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine with a goal to define, explore and implement activities to benefit the region's residents.

"We'll be looking at common problems across the Western Illinois region and solutions that are more regional than local," said Jerrod Welch, Adams County health department administrator. "We're all agreeing to work together to identify and tackle these issues."

The group will focus on budget and resources, both of which have been stretched thin by the state's ongoing financial troubles.

"One of the best things we can do is look at solutions across multiple areas," Welch said. "There's no monetary agreement, no binding agreement outside of the understanding we all share these (issues)."

In Adams County, Welch said the department's cash reserves "are still holding OK," but general revenue payments from the state have slowed.

"Historically, we've seen the state, when it had budget issues, put out payments at the end of the fiscal year. We'll know at the July meeting if state budget dollars flow better," he said.

But if payments for FY17 grants remain delayed into 2018, "we will need to discuss a strategy to discontinue or reduce programming in certain grant-funded areas," Welch said in his quarterly written report.

The alliance will create a governing board with representatives from each entity, then work to develop a three-year plan to improve health and health care throughout its counties and develop sites to provide health care learners with rural experiences.

The agreement, which must be approved by the remaining participating counties and the university's board of trustees, will be effective for one year and may be extended by mutual written agreement of the participants.

In other action, board members:

Asked Welch to forward renewal appointments to the Adams County Board for board members Mark Peter, an annual appointment, and Tom Miller, a three-year appointment.

Heard an update on scheduling delivery of the new Wellness Express mobile health clinic.

Learned interviews are expected to start in the next few weeks to hire a new clinical director. Shay Drummond left the department at the end of February for a position outside the community. Department programs have been realigned to focus the new director's skill set toward clinical practice management instead of broad public health practice, and some core public health programs have been reassigned under program director Ellen Vonderheide.

Acknowledged the years of service of Dr. Gerald Crank, who died April 6, and his work to form the Adams County Dental Clinic.

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