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Board of Health heard updates on PFAs, Opioid abatement funds, privatized COVID vaccine distribution

LWVSJ Observer Corps*: summary of the San Juan County Board of Health September 2023 meeting.

The Board discussed possible steps to get more consistent participation from the Town of Friday Harbor on the Board of Health.

The Accountable Communities for Health plans to get grantees, mainly the resource centers, to update the Board on their projects at future meetings. The Community Collaborative Committee recently had updates on their collaboration with SAFE San Juans and the Food Bank.

Council Member Fuller reported on an opioid abatement sub-committee set up to distribute federal payouts in opioid settlements. So far $423k has been allocated for the five North Sound counties, a working group will recommend whether funds go directly to county governments or through the North Sound Behavioral Health ASO, which has its own body to handle state payouts.

The County Health Communications Program Coordinator reviewed communications policies and programs to inform the public about health issues and programs. A process is in place for all documents and communications.

Their social media accounts have good engagement levels. They will review and re-organize their portion of the County website and they are working with the county communications director to push out information on the Engage San Juans web-platform, including the community health survey: https://engage.sanjuancountywa.gov/community-health-assessment.

The Environmental Health Manager gave an update on the PFAS situation at Hannah Heights, which remains the only place where reportable levels of PFAS have been found. Residents still depend on hauled and bottled water, but the county received two state grants to reimburse the group for testing, hauled water and other costs, and the Association is applying for a USDA loan to help with the search for a new water supply. The County is applying for some funds for more support and to be prepared to support any water systems which might face similar issues.

The Board of Health approve a partnership where the county will handle blood tests for syphilis and HIV for Planned Parenthood patients that the organization cannot provide in-house in San Juan County, but for which the County has state-provided facilities and supplies. Initially this will be on San Juan Island, but in the new year they plan to expand this to other islands.

Distribution of the new Covid vaccine approved this month by the FDA is being privatized and the grant received by the county for vaccines can not be used to buy the Covid vaccine, so the county cancelled plans to provide it via mass vaccination events. They will get small quantities to vaccinate children and uninsured adults. Adults with insurance will need to get the vaccine at health providers or pharmacies. The cost and insurance reimbursement policies are still unknown, slowing the rollout. The pharmacies on Orcas and Lopez hope to have some vaccine available in October. The large pharmacy chains on the mainland will probably provide the earliest availability of the vaccine.

*The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization encourages informed participation in government. The Observer Corps attends and takes notes at government meetings to expand public understanding of public policy and decisions. The notes do not necessarily reflect the views of the League or its members.


Last modified onFriday, 22 September 2023 00:27