The Grayson County Health Department, which has been a part of the Lincoln Trail Health District for more than three decades, will soon be an independently-run department following a unanimous vote at the Fiscal Court meeting on January 18.
The Lincoln Trail Health District (LTHD) currently consists of seven counties, including Grayson, and operates out of a central office, where policies are set for the group of counties. Each health department is required to send a portion of its annual income to the district to cover operating costs.
However, beginning on July 1, 2013, Grayson County will leave the group, and begin carrying out all of the functions previously performed by LTHD’s central office.
Gigi Meredith, a representative for the Grayson County Health Department said on Thursday that those receiving services from the department can expect them to carry on as normal once July rolls around. “We’ll let the public know if there are any changes,” she added.
The majority of the changes, however, will be of the sort that will not effect these patient services. The real difference will be that local funds will stay local and will go toward running the department, which will also now have the power to make its own policy decisions.
Grayson is not the first county to leave the district and become independently-run. Breckenridge County made the same move in 1999, and employee Cindy Bandy said recently, “we’re glad we did it.”
Bandy told The News-Gazette, “We still offer all of the same programs as when we were a part of the district, but as far as the benefits, the biggest one is just keeping your money locally in your county.”
Another big plus as far as Bandy is concerned is “the freedom to decide how you feel that money needs to be spent to give the greatest benefit to the residents. We’re not having to conform to things that may have benefited another county in the district - it’s simply what’s best for us, and that will be the same thing for Grayson County. It will be all about Grayson County.”
She said that she has spoken with employees from the GCHD, and shared Breckenridge County’s experiences with them. “I tried not to encourage them one way or another because they have to make the decision on what they feel is right for them and their staff. It does take dedication from all the staff to make it work.”
Bandy concluded by saying of Grayson County’s decision, “I think they can do it. I think they’ll be fine.”
A written statement from Judge Executive Gary Logsdon’s office concerning the switch read, “We feel with our competent board and staff, we can better serve our community at a local level.”
In other Fiscal Court news, the group voted to apply for a Land and Water Conservation Grant to go toward the construction of a bike trail near the new judicial center. The conservation grant is a 50/50 in-kind grant, which means that if awarded, it will match the funds/materials contributed by the county.
The magistrates also chose to allocate funds from an Agriculture Development Fund grant toward the purchase of computers and printers. The cost for the equipment is listed at $1,504.23.
Bids will soon be accepted for work on the Pine Knob Bridge, following a unanimous vote to replace the wood floor decking, which is no longer safe. Logsdon said that the steel beneath the decking is still in good shape, and the wood will be replaced with either steel or concrete.
In other county news:
- A new van was approved for the Grayson County Detention Center as per a request by Jailer Darwin Dennison.
- Tourism Board members Margaret Rigdon and Brenda Parks were reappointed to the board.
- A motion passed which will up the county’s rate of pay for mileage to the current state rate.