Members named to new health department board

Following a decision to dissolve the former San Juan Basin Health Department board, Archuleta County Commissioner Bob Moomaw and La Plata County Commissioner Kelly Hotter named new members of the retooled board June 5.

According to Moomaw, he will sit on the board as the Archuleta County representative, while commissioner Joelle Riddle will represent La Plata County.

County commissioner representation was also a facet of the former board structure.

In addition to Moomaw and Riddle, Archuleta County Manager Greg Schulte will serve a one-year term, while La Plata County Manager, Shawn Nau, will also serve a one-year term.

According to the commissioners’ decision, former board chair Dr. Mark Wienpahl will rejoin the board as a community representative, as will former board vice chair Bob Ledger and Bill Willson. Ledger and Willson will also serve as community representatives.

The naming of Wienpahl, Ledger and Willson was an outgrowth of a May 27 decision to dissolve the former board and to create a seven-member board using Hotter and Moomaw as a nominating committee.

During those discussions, Archuleta and La Plata County elected officials agreed to maintain commissioner representation and to appoint their respective county managers for one-year terms. With those decisions made, that left three seats open — hence the nominations of Wienpahl, Ledger and Willson.

“In making our decisions, Commissioner Moomaw and I chose candidates who reflect the skills and expertise that we believe will be most important for the BOH (board of health) going forward,” said Hotter. “These appointees represent a good balance of past board of health continuity and experience coupled with new expertise, skills and perspectives that will serve the San Juan Basin Health Department well in accomplishing the important tasks before it.”

Among those tasks is the timely implementation of SB-194 — also called the Colorado Public Health Re-organization Act.

Governor Bill Ritter signed the act into law June, 4, 2008, requiring county governments, agencies and public officials to cooperatively develop state and local public health plans that set priorities for the public health system in Colorado. According to the governor’s office, the intent is to assure that core public health services are available to all Colorado residents with a consistent standard of quality.

That said, the law requires county governments to establish a local public health agency or participate in a district public health agency by July 1, 2009. The designated public health agency is then required to prepare a public health plan consistent with the statewide improvement plan as soon as practicable after the statewide public health improvement plan is unveiled Dec. 31, 2009.

Although adhering to the mandates of the state legislation is clearly part of the package, the process will allow the new board to study how the health department does business — including assessing its current menu of services and deep examinations of its financial practices. In short, the legislation provides an opportunity for the new board to review and overhaul departmental programs, finances and administrative functions as necessary.

“This is a great new beginning for the board of health,” said Moomaw. “I’m very excited at the prospect of working with the new board and know that we can look forward to positive times ahead for public health in our communities.”

The new board of health became an official appointed body June 5, 2009.

james@pagosasun.com