The Board of Health approved the job description for the new Public Health position of community outreach coordinator during a meeting on Tuesday, March 19.
The position was created to fill a void that will be left once the paid position of director of Healthy Henry County Communities (HHCC) is terminated effective April 15. The position is being terminated after the county was informed by the state auditor that it is against the Iowa Constitution to pay the director of a nonprofit as a county employee.
The position of community outreach coordinator will be 37.5 hours, which is standard full-time for employees of Henry County. The community outreach coordinator will assess the needs for, plans for and coordinate the implementation of community health programs, services and activities based on the Board of Health’s priorities, according to the job description.
Kelly Carr, who is the current HHCC director, began being paid by the county when Public Health was shifted from the Henry County Health Center to a county department on July 1, 2018. The Board of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with HHCC, which enabled Carr to work part time as a Public Health employee and part time as director of HHCC.
Once the memorandum of understanding is terminated on April 15, HHCC is tentatively planning on splitting into a board of directors, who will maintain a nonprofit status, and an HHCC coalition, who will do the legwork at health-focused community events.
The job for community outreach coordinator will be posted for 10 business days at the courthouse and on the county’s website, per their policy. However, the Board of Health created the position with current HHCC director Kelly Carr in mind.
Once the 10 days are up, Public Health director Shelley Van Dorin will request that county supervisors approve the new position and hiring Carr, supervisor Greg Moeller said.
Moeller couldn’t say whether or not supervisors will approve the position and Carr for the position.
The position of community outreach coordinator has already been considered in Public Health’s fiscal year 2020 budget, Henry County auditor Shelly Barber said during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, March 19.
Buzz Bezoni, chair of the Board of Health, said Carr has an “ability for grant writing.”
“That’s going to be very important coming up,” Bezoni said, adding that once HRSA — a three-year $1 million grant — runs out it will be “really paramount” for someone to continue grant writing for Public Health.
Several community members wrote to Public Health expressing their support for the position of community outreach coordinator and concern for the future of HHCC.
Jake Tanumihardjo, community coordinator at Great River Health System, wrote that he is in support of the creation of community outreach coordinator. Tanumihardjo said in his position, he coordinates activities to address the focus areas highlighted by Des Moines County’s community health needs assessment.
“Some of the work I have done in my community can be directly attributed to the collaboration and support I have received from Kelly Carr and Healthy Henry County Communities,” Tanumihardjo wrote. “Her insight on public health strategies and thoughtfulness in coordinating public health efforts have been invaluable to me in the work that I have done in my community.”
Angie Rhum, a Public Health employee, wrote that Carr is a “tremendous asset” to the department and the county.
“In my 20 plus years of public health experience, I have never seen a public health department that embraces wellness like Henry County,” Rhum wrote. “I can see the benefit of Kelly’s enthusiasm with the programs (Henry County Public Health) provides. It spills out into the community … It will be a tragic loss for the residents of Henry County if she is not a part of Henry County Public Health.”
Others wrote asking that HHCC continue to have a director.
Dave Helman, formerly on the HHCC board, said that HHCC is “cutting edge.”
“(It) takes us to the next level of initiative and necessary care for our citizens,” Helman wrote. “The tasks and structure of HHCC require talented, committed staff, compensated, executive leadership … Volunteers respond best to strong, clearly defined leaders who have the time and support to do the job right.”
The next Board of Health meeting is Tuesday, April 9, at Public Health.