As the reconfigured leadership of the San Juan Basin Health Department determines whether the preventive health-care agency is operating as efficiently as it can, it is good to know that revenues and expenses for the year ending 2008 have been confirmed as being mostly accounted for. The results of the financial audit given to the governing board last week show only about $17,000 of $6.5 million in public funding to be unaccounted for.When the county commissioners of the two-county department - La Plata and Archuleta counties - sought to name themselves the agency's directors to most efficiently carry out the review mandated by state legislation, there was some feeling that because of the multi-faceted nature of the organization, there could be some misspent dollars. The department provides dozens of services, underwritten by dozens of funding sources. Preventive health care always has delivered a high return, and the tasks that public health-care organizations such as the department can perform are many.
Now, knowing that the dollars are accounted for, we expect the agency's governing board and leadership will try to take a fresh look at the organization's operations. It is not difficult to imagine that different funding sources have different mandates, and that sometimes can result in overlapping deliveries or gaps in services.
Meanwhile, after receiving pushback from the community and the department's staff, the board now has a healthy mix of elected officials and nonelected members; county representation is limited to one commissioner per county and the counties' managers. Other board members bring a mix of nonpolitical professional backgrounds.
The importance of good public health, which has a preventive health-care mission, is as strong as ever. Some preventive health-care needs have not changed. But the ever-changing nature of life and the shrinking planet, where travel and the spread of diseases is increasingly easy, means that public-health agencies will have more to tend with in the future.
San Juan Basin Health Department has been an asset to residents in the two counties, and we look forward to it being as thorough, proactive and efficient as possible going forward.