Beeson to assist Page County Public Health

Montgomery County Public Health coordinator Samantha Beeson will now oversee Page County’s Public Health Department.
At the regular Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting July 5, Beeson shared that effective July 1, the public health boards of both counties signed an agreement for Beeson to serve as Page County’s interim public health administrator.
“This is a year-long agreement with an assessment in six months to see how things are going. Their previous administrator left in June, and he had approached me before he left to see if it was a possibility. From there, our boards worked out an agreement,” Beeson said.
The State of Iowa has merged the Department of Human Services and Department of Public Health at the state level to Health and Human Services. Beeson said there is talk about further merging.
“We’re hearing talk from the state level that in the next couple of years, public health departments are going to be regionalized. We have no idea how that’s going to look, so we thought this would be a great time to possibly work with another county and merge services, or see if their services and ours line up. Right now, it’s just myself as the administrator to oversee. Hours will vary weekly depending on what they need me down there for in regards to meetings and such,” advised Beeson.
Supervisor Donna Robinson, who sits on the Montgomery County Public Health Board as a non-voting member, said a lot of discussion went into the agreement.
“Samantha has been in contact with me on this agreement and how it works moving forward. The chairman and vice chairman of the board has been in on a lot of the meetings and conversations, and we’ve done the legal work. This isn’t a decision that was made overnight; there’s been a lot of effort put into this,” commented Robinson.
Beeson said the plans for her move to the position have been ongoing for the past three weeks, and confirmed that the county attorney reviewed the agreement before it was approved by both boards.
Supevisor Charla Schmid asked if there was any more information on the decision to merge the state’s department of human services and public health into one entity. Beeson said the director, Kelly Garcia, had merged the two entities in the state of Texas before coming to Iowa.
“When she came here, we all kind of figured that’s what was going to happen. Some of DHS’ services and public health services were similar. Instead of having a bunch of different funding cycles for both entities, they merged them to try and get the funding into different and lesser silos.
Supervisors Chair Mike Olson asked Beeson if a regional merger took place with county public health offices, what it would look like and whether there would be any local control. Beeson said she had no firm information, and could only speculate.
“There’s going to be a study done in the fall to look into regional public health offices. I don’t foresee much changing locally because you need local representation in each county and we know our resources. I think the funding will change. Instead of the state sending out 99 contracts for the local public health grant they’ll send out one contract to one county and the other counties would then sub-contract with those counties for the funding. That’s how I think it’s going to happen, but that could totally change,” explained Beeson.
The supervisors also discussed a new potential lease agreement with Family Connections, Inc. at the Highland Annex building.
The agency, which currently has offices in the ground floor of the building, was looking to lease an additional 3,410 feet of space. The existing lease charged 30 cents per square foot per month for 1,800 feet of space. Olson suggested the contract be re-evaluated.
“Currnetly we pay for snow removal, utilities, mowing, and other services. The feedback we’re getting is that 30 cents is a bit low. Also, it’s been discussed that the new space being leased be updated, so we would need to know what the renovations would cost and what the agency would be doing. The ceilings and HVAC are new, but there’s talk of new carpet, paint, and removing some cabinets,” Olson said.
Robinson said there would be no doubt that the rent would be increased.  
As for the renovations, Robinson suggested securing the involvement of maintenance supervisor Dan Wright.
No action was taken at the meeting regarding the new lease agreement, pending further discussion between Family Connections and the county. 

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