By Mary Alice Murphy

[Editor's Note: The meeting went for a bit more than five hours, with a very short break. Several articles will cover the presentations and the review of the regular agenda, in addition to county and commissioner reports. Part 3 will cover the Grant County Community Health Council update.]

At the Grant County Commission work session on Oct. 12, 2021, commissioners heard five presentations. This is the third.

Marilyn Alcorn, chair of the Grant County Community Health Council, through a Zoom presentation, gave updates on what the health council is doing.

"We are working on completion of an application for ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds," Alcorn said. "We are working with CHI (Center for Health Innovations) for an equity grant to build equity around health care systems. We are also hoping to contract with CHI for a coordinator. Workforce is an issue throughout the county. We're not sure if it will be a dedicated position or a part-time one along with CHI. We are waiting for grant funds for the position. We currently get a bit more than $9,400 in funding yearly from the state. Getting a full-time coordinator will rely on our getting grants."

The health council was an integral part of the local Covid-19 response in the county. Alcorn said Covid vaccinations are available at Walmart, Albertson's, Walgreen's, and CVS. "Walmart, Walgreen's and CVS have only the Moderna vaccine, which requires two shots. All have walk in capability, although CVS encourages appointments for the Covid vaccine."

"The HMS (Hidalgo Medical Services) clinic is asking folks to make appointments," Alcorn continued. "Albertson's is using the DOH website for appointments."

She reported that the Veterans Administration is starting to give boosters to veterans on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at the local clinic, beginning on Oct. 19. "They are working on getting the Pfizer booster for immunocompromised individuals."

She gave an update on the most recent version of the health council. "In the past, we had up to 32 sectors. In restructuring, we are going to different networks instead. We are trying to gather community organizations in collaborative monthly meetings. Everything in health care interfaces with everything else. Each network has a representative on the steering committee. The networks are building out their memberships."

She explained that most of the health care groups that were meeting under the Covid task force have now blended into the networks. She noted that the senior services network under HMS has grant funding through Freeport-McMoRan. They continue to work on senior issues. "The food security issues were addressed last year, but they are working to implement back into the community. They have a fund to help seniors with needs that come up with no other funds available, such as a refrigerator going out. We are working on a compassionate fund."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce thanked Alcorn, and no commissioners had questions.

The next presentation will be covered in a following article. It addresses the parcel mapping program the county undertook to create more accurate maps for the county.

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