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Health Council hears updates and reports on upcoming activities

After hearing two presentations, Grant County Community Health Council members heard an update on council activities from Tiffany Knauf, Health Council coordinator.

"Ninety-nine percent of you are on committees for the priorities," Knauf said to the members. "We will soon have a new website. We have seen the draft and it looks great. We hope for a search capability for the resource directories."


She said, as a member of the New Mexico Health Council Alliance, the Department of Health has sent out a letter indicating the deliverables for the $5,000 GCCHC will receive for this fiscal year. "We'll need to show proof of a community assessment, submit our 2013 profile and have a plan created around at least three priorities. This is right in line with what the health council has done or is doing." She said for next year, the alliance is asking for $900,000 extra over the $195,000 received this year.

Knauf and assistant coordinator Kendra Milligan continue to work on grants, and are considering applying for a McCune Foundation grant, as well as the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Foundation's Community Investment Fund.

"This will be our last year and final deadline for the Community Enhancement Fund," Knauf said. "The last deadline is Oct. 19. We will give a final report at the December Health Council meeting. This fund has provided well over $300,000 in trainings to Grant County over the past seven years.

"We still send out the Community Calendar twice a week to more than 1,000 Grant County residents," Knauf said. "The calendar is also on the Health Council's Facebook page."

Health Council member Mary Stoecker said she sends the calendar to guests coming to visit, so they know what's going on.

Knauf talked about the abstract review process with Grant County commissioners. A funding packet is given to anyone wishing to ask the county for funding. The Health Council reviews the request to make sure it meets the needs of the community.

Red Hot Children's Fiesta, with an "Out of This World" theme, will take place at Old James Stadium at Western New Mexico University from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. "We have more than 40 booths this year," she said.

The Mimbres Health Fair will take place Oct. 5. Walgreen's will offer free flu shots at the fair.

"We are also working hard to plan the first annual Non-Profit Resource Conference, which will take place Friday, Oct. 25, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Grant County Veterans' Memorial Business and Conference Center. All training will be taught by local people."

Connie Hostetler addressed senior issues. "I went to a conference on aging. I did a lot of networking, and got a lot of information on caregiving. Next spring, we will have a caregiving workshop." At the conference, she heard about a new program, a Silver Alert for Alzheimer's patients. She said she is volunteering to be trained in the state health insurance assistance programs. From Oct. 7 through Dec. 7 is the period for people to learn about Medicare and Part D insurance.

She told the Beat that for those who already have Medicare and a supplemental policy, there would be no changes.

In addition to the flu shots at the Mimbres Health Fair, Walmart will offer a simple vision screening. Also the New Mexico Environment Department will offer well water testing for those who bring samples to the fair.

"I enjoy what I do," Hostetler said.

Priscilla Lucero, Health Council chairwoman, said the North Central New Mexico Council of Governments, which oversees the Area Agency on Aging would put ads on the Corre Caminos buses.

"It is not mandated to have wells tested," she said to Hostetler, "but with recent flooding, it's a good idea. Good job for bringing it to the fair."

A.J. Sandoval of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities said the group is in its last few months of its grant, which sunsets on Dec. 15.  "We have applied for other funding sources, but haven't heard back.  We lost Ali Jensen, who went back home to Washington. She was coordinating Fit Families on eating right and physical activity. We have handed the program to Hidalgo Medical Services, who was assisting us in coordinating it. We have a current session going in Silver City and the next one will be in the Mining District."

He said the documentary: "A Place at the Table," will be showing Oct. 24 at the Western New Mexico University Besse-Forward Global Resource Center. The video addresses food in schools.

"We provide support to the Food Policy Council, which is talking about expanding to the four counties in the area," Sandoval said. "We are hiring a staff person, doing interviews this week, so the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities keeps going. We couldn't have done it without the help of the Health Council and Gila Regional Medical Center. We look forward to seeing obesity reduced."

Colleen Boyd, Health Council member representing the interpersonal violence sector, asked if the position being interviewed for was just to the end of the grant.

Chris DeBolt, representing the rural sector, asked what would continue once the grant was over.

Sandoval said, when the grant sunsets, the position for which they are interviewing will be gone, but HKHC will continue its work with its partners.

Razanna Robinson-Thomas of Partnerships for Success II explained the group is addressing underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. "We held focus groups with students and community members, as well as separate ones with law enforcement and physicians. We have begun processing and analyzing the information we received."

She passed out a survey to find out opinions on whether the community is ready to implement strategies "or do we need to raise awareness? After that we will pick strategies. We are working with Western on the projects. Our intern, Danielle Padilla, a nursing student at Western, is helping."

Knauf said Robinson-Thomas would give a full report at the December meeting.

Next were reports from the committees working on the newly developed Health Council priorities.

Mary Stoecker reported on Behavioral Health. "We are looking at subcategories, with templates to get us started. Among those being considered are substance abuse and mental health among youths and adults in Grant County. So far, on the youth category, the discussion has been on treatment outcome measures. We will also work on areas of concern."

Knauf reported on the Community Health and Safety Committee, which is focused on promoting quality of life, access to health care and service to the community.

Stoecker reported on the Family Resiliency group, which has defined the priority as a family's capacity to adapt to changes and challenges. "We will let the Fitness and Nutrition Committee continue to take care of the fitness and nutrition aspects of the priority. We are tending toward Early Childhood as an area of concern rather than a subcategory of our work. We are narrowing down our focus to senior and youth activities."

Boyd said no one other than herself has shown up at the Interpersonal Violence Committee meetings, but the priority includes domestic violence, sexual assault and bullying. "We need leadership from Health Council members to come forward to help me with the definition. I know the community is anxious to get involved, especially El Refugio and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance.

Committee reports followed.

The Plan and Profile Committee approved the priorities. Nothing has happened needing Bylaws Committee action. The Membership Committee should meet soon, as the Health Council is down to 25 members. Letters of interest are being sought, and some have been received.

Lucero asked if a letter from the new superintendent at Cobre Schools had been received. She also asked staff to send a form to Brian Cunningham, GRMC interim CEO.

Knauf said after the prior CEO, Brian Bentley, resigned, he sent an "amazing letter, saying wherever he is, he will continue to be a Health Council advocate. Forrest Olson of HMS also resigned. I am hearing from the grapevine that Dr. Darrick Nelson will serve as acting CEO. I have encouraged the interims to be involved until they can officially become council members."

The Community Enhancement Fund final deadline for funding local training opportunities is Oct. 18, with about $40,000 available for distribution to approved projects.

"What if we don't get any applications?" Stoecker asked.

"If we don't, I talked to Richard Peterson before he retired, and he encouraged us to use the funding for our local training opportunities," Knauf said.

The report by Health Council member, Border Area Mental Health Services Director Kathleen Hunt has been presented in a separate article on this page.

Evangeline Zamora, Health Council member and director of LifeQuest announced the agency will be celebrating its 40th anniversary on Friday, Sept. 20 from noon to 4 p.m., including child friendly activities and presentations at 12:15.

DeBolt, in her rural sector report, said the Roadrunner commodity program in the Mimbres is "a troublesome situation. The kind of food and the amount of food is diminishing. Roadrunner has a monopoly in the state. Their deliveries are haphazard and decreasing. We served 137 families last month, but only 97 this month. The problem is real and growing."

Milligan said there would be a food drive at the Red Hot Children's Fiesta for the food pantry.

Bob Reese of the Ministerial Alliance and a Health Council member said a recent microburst in Columbus has destroyed a number of homes, with more damaged. "Ace Hardware here has provided supplies at cost, and we have teams that will help with the reconstruction. We have raised $30,000, but the goal is $50,000. Call the Health Council or the Presbyterian Church, and we will get you connected to the right person."

Maria Morales-Loebl of El Refugio Inc. will speak to the members of the Ministerial Alliance at a meeting in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Reese said the Salvation Army service extension teams are working with the Kiwanis Club for bell ringing during the holiday season, and that there are opportunities to help.

Lucero pointed out that federal and state resources are gone or diminished. "It's frustrating to try to help families when they lose everything."

She said the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority is addressing health and safety concerns, such as red-tagged heaters. "They are trying to figure out how to allocate funds to help with such items. Colonias funding is looking at expanding into help for families. We need to be creative in establishing funding."

Boy said October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month for the 35th year. A proclamation will be read Oct. 1 at the Woman's Club, but she did not know the time.

"As part of my economic development sector report," Lucero said, "I would like to announce that we have a pilot plan for broadband access. We are looking at capacity, because we do have areas in the four-county region with no broadband service. We are also looking at franchise agreements to see if they are in compliance.  We will look at USDA for funding for areas not served. Emily (Gojkovich of the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments) did a student-parent survey at Silver High School. She attempted to do one at Cobre High School, but did not get the opportunity."

During public comment, Sandra Lucas, area resident, said she was happy to attend the meeting to hear what's going on. She said the Gila River Festival begins Thursday (today.)

Health Council member Mary Alice Murphy announced Fort Bayard Days on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20 and 21.

Lucero asked for a moment of silence for Health Council member Terry Anderson on the loss of her father that afternoon.

The next meeting of the Health Council will take place at 3 p.m., Monday, Dec. 9, at the Grant County Administration Center.

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