New Era Staff Editorial
What happens inside the walls of the Christian County Health Department on Canton Street, and what happens outside those walls in the second-largest county in Kentucky, are both concerns for the local health board. Mark Pyle, the county health director, acknowledged this fact during a board meeting Monday. He told the board members their focus should shift from managing the department’s finances to addressing the county’s health needs.
Christian County has serious health problems, and it is consistent with the public health department’s focus to lead the community’s response to those problems. That’s why Pyle’s plan to shift the focus of the health board is an important positive step for the community.
“How many of you, when you signed up for the board of health, thought that the only thing that you would do when you came to a board meeting would be talk about money?” Pyle asked board members at Monday’s meeting. “If you haven’t noticed, the past four years, we haven’t talked about a lot of health issues. That’s going to change.”
We believe the health board should lead a comprehensive and sustained plan for efforts to improve the county’s health. And we recognize the health board is one player, although it is not the one with the greatest resources.
The largest health care institution is Jennie Stuart Medical Center, and the hospital’s leadership team should be involved in this new focus for the health department. It is a nonprofit community hospital. Other health care institutions in the county include the Pennyroyal Center, St. Luke Free Clinic, Western State Hospital, Pennyroyal Hospice and private physician and clinical offices. These institutions, with particular emphasis on JSMC, should be prominent players in the health department’s new focus.
Pyle said he intends to explain his plans at the health board’s next meeting on Nov. 19. And while we still believe the health board should meet monthly rather than quarterly, we support Pyle’s desire to have the health board focus on broader issues in the county’s health.