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Local Boards Collaborate on Healthcare Planning

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Twenty four representatives of four local organizations met January 16th at the Hospital’s new Sprowel Creek Campus to explore the possibilities for improving healthcare outreach to Northern Mendocino and Southern Humboldt’s smaller, remote communities.

Board members and senior staff from Redwoods Rural Health Center, SoHum Health, the Healy Senior Center and Heart of the Redwoods Community Hospice summarized recent additions to local primary care, diagnostic capabilities and the potential for making new services available throughout our area. Partnership Health Plan of California also participated.

Representatives discussed the importance of re-building trust with community members

During small group breakout conversations, both Redwoods Rural and SoHum Health board members discussed the importance of re-building trust with community members who decided long ago to drive north or south for their medical care. That was before today’s level of diagnostic technology and deep primary care staffing were available.

Triggered in part by grants from Vocality Credit Union and organized by the SoHum Health board, participants also heard about the role of community health workers in other communities. Guest speakers for the event were Jill Tregor (a professor at San Francisco City College) and Julian Montgomery (a community health worker for the San Francisco Health Plan).

“Meals-on-Wheels drivers, Hospice and home health nurses, fire department volunteers and others are already bringing healthcare to homebound seniors in your area,” Julian said. “It may be as simple as equipping them well and offering additional education to broaden the services they’re already offering.”

Erica Boyd, current board chair at Redwoods Rural, previously served as a community health worker in Humboldt County. She offered context about the unique challenges of serving such a remote area and the isolation, which seniors can experience at a time in their lives when social interaction becomes more important than ever.

Participants volunteered to meet regularly to organize communication about primary care and diagnostic services

Toward the end of the meeting, participants from all four organizations volunteered to meet regularly as an informal committee, to organize communication about the broader primary care and diagnostic services, which are now available locally.

“We are fortunate to have two well-staffed clinics and active nonprofits in our area,” said Corinne Stromstad, chair of the SoHum Health board. “We’ll support this committee and their recommendations as they are formulated, to continue the spirit of collaboration which this planning group created.”

SHCHD, Staff writer