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Cook County Connections: 2022 Public Health and Human Services Department Year in Review

Jan 13, 2023 09:12AM ● By Content Editor
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From Cook County, Minnesota - January 13, 2023

By: Alison McIntyre, Cook County Public Health and Human Services Director

The Cook County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) department contains a team of 32 staff who provide a wide range of mandated and supportive services to county residents. In addition to our staff, the PHHS department contracts with local and regional service providers in the areas of child support, substance use disorder assessment and treatment services, in-home support services, and a variety of public health programs. Our department's mission is “supporting the health, safety, and well-being of our community.”

Staff Updates

In 2022, twelve staff positions turned over due to resignation, retirement, and internal job transfers, marking an unprecedented new level of turnover for our team. Cross-training staff across program areas continues to be a priority going into 2023 as we work to minimize the impact on staff and the people we serve when positions turnover.

We welcomed twelve new staff in 2022 to backfill these positions and in new positions, developed in response to emerging community needs. Newly created or reconfigured positions in 2022 include the coordinated mental health crisis response pilot, additional staff hours in children’s mental health, the additional child care coordination responsibilities within the County Licensor position, the reorganization of human services teams and addition of a Behavioral Health Supervisor.

Program and Service Updates

Public Health and Human Services staff led and supported program and service development in several key areas, aligned with our five-year Community Health Improvement Plan.

The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program is a three-year federally funded grant partnership between the University of MN, Grand Portage, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, and Cook County. Through this grant program, PHHS staff are increasing our work alongside these partners, local schools, and other service providers to expand access to substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

In late 2022, PHHS hired a Coordinated Mental Health Crisis Response Worker to partner with Law Enforcement, Hospital, and Tribal and County Human Services staff in responding to and preventing mental health crises during daytime hours. This has been a gap following the closure of the Human Development Center in Cook County. This is a two-year pilot funded through the Federal American Rescue Plan and regional mental health crisis grants.

Throughout 2022, staff participated in the Rural Childcare Innovation Program local community engagement work. In August the Public Health and Human Services Board approved one-time funding to support a local childcare wage enhancement program to support current childcare providers and expand access to childcare throughout the county. A reconfigured Licensor / Childcare Coordinator position within the PHHS department increases our capacity to support the childcare system in Cook County by seeking out funding, establishing a substitute provider pool, and providing shared support services to providers.

Launched in 2022, the Healthy Housing program connects trained public health staff with homeowners, renters, and landlords through evidence-based healthy housing assessments to identify housing-based health threats. This grant-funded program provides education and resources to help correct the identified hazards.

Community Engagement

The PHHS Advisory Council and Cook County Local Mental Health Advisory Council were active in making policy, service, and funding recommendations, conducting outreach, and fostering connections across local health and human services organizations in 2022. Both advisory councils welcomed new members last year through continued outreach and recruitment of community members and service providers.

PHHS staff supported the creation of two new community task forces in 2022. The Healthy Housing Network was established to engage multiple perspectives and advise the department as we build capacity to address the link between health and housing in Cook County. This group meets monthly on the first Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Cook County Community Center with a virtual meeting option. The Childcare Solutions subcommittee of the PHHS Advisory Council meets monthly to help keep members of the public informed and explore avenues for the ongoing support of childcare providers as well as families with young children in care. This hybrid group meets monthly on the second Wednesday from 2:30-4 p.m.

Members of the PHHS Advisory Council served on a subcommittee to provide funding recommendations for community non-profits who applied for the public health fund. Eight local nonprofits applied in 2022 requesting a combined total of $242,436 in funding. The volunteer grant review subcommittee met to review and score the requests with a recommendation to fund $191,000 to organizations working to advance the goals of the 2017-2022 Cook County community health improvement plan.

 

To get involved in a citizen advisory council, visit the Cook County website meeting portal at: https://cocookmn.civicweb.net/Portal/. You can also call our office at 218-387-3620 or email us at [email protected]

 

Learn more about the PHHS department at the January 17 PHHS Board Meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Cook County Commissioners Room. The meeting is available to live stream on the Cook County website at www.co.cook.mn.us. You can also visit our website at www.cookcountyphhs.org, contact us via email at [email protected] or find us on Facebook @CookCountyPHHS or Instagram @cook_county_phhs to learn more about our work in supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of Cook County. For the latest information on COVID-19 in Cook County, visit the comprehensive COVID-19 response hub site at www.cookcountycovid19.org


County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.