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Lori Jagoda
06/26/2014 1:41 PM

Lori Jagoda, RN, BSN, PHN

Volcano

In the guest commentary of June 6 responding to the Health and Human Services rent, Supervisor Novelli states he agrees the rent is high, but “doing something productive about it are two very different things.” Mr. Novelli, Ms. Stone, and I all agree realignment funding has decreased and cuts were inevitable. Novelli also states, “The various Realignment funds reimburse at 100 percent for rent.” That is also true. However, is it the intended purpose for realignment funds? The primary purpose of realignment dollars is for counties to improve community-wide health. This money is an investment in public health and prevention and is for preventing chronic and communicable diseases. It is to pay for services, not rent.

My question to Mr. Novelli and the other supervisors is this — is it up to public health to bear the full burden of a rent they cannot afford at the cost of community-wide health? Or is it up to our elected officials to step up and take responsibility? California Health and Safety Code Section 101025 states, “The board of supervisors of each county shall take measures as may be necessary to preserve and protect the public health in the unincorporated territory of the county, including, if indicated, the adoption of ordinances, regulations and orders not in conflict with general laws, and provide for the payment of all expenses incurred in enforcing them.” (leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=101001-102000&file=101025-101070.)

While Novelli states he and the other supervisors are not responsible for the original lease and point a finger at former HHS Director Tracy Russell, I believe they are responsible for allowing the fallout to continue. They have ignored ongoing decline in public health services for five years. The building and the rent are not the real issues, although they have had a devastating impact. The real issue is continued loss of public health staffing and services and its associated impact on community health. Saying you are committed to work against wasteful spending and “this is why I do not want to spend even more money trying to get out of that lease” is not an answer. Novelli states, “We do continue to look for alternatives, but workable options have not yet been found.” Who is this “we” and what have you considered? True leadership means working with the staff and constituents he or she serves to look for solutions acceptable to everyone. I only hope it is not too late for the health of Amador County.

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