Our Public Health District needs help

Dear Editor,

Attention all health care professionals! Ranked 37th out of 39 Washington State counties in public health according to a respected study, Okanogan County remains in critical need of a secure public health system. Yet, our county commissioners have repeatedly cut the public health budget in recent years.

A new Board of Health will begin its term on December 8. The new Board of Health members, who were appointed by the Board of County Commissioners, are Steve Varrelman, a licensed installer of septic systems from Pateros; Larry Zimmerland of Winthrop, who designs onsite septic systems and community water systems; and Mariann Williams, a family nurse practitioner in Oroville. The four existing board members are the three county commissioners and Oroville City Council member Neysa Roley. Clearly, the apparent lack of public health expertise among most of the board members is a concern.

I am calling on all health care providers and administrators in Okanogan County to take an active interest in the struggle to keep our Public Health District viable. We, as healthcare professionals, need to advocate for promoting health and preventing disease in Okanogan County.

Therefore, please attend the Board of Health meeting on December 8, 1:00 p.m. at the County Health Department. This is an opportunity to meet all the board members and ask each one the question, “How do you propose to maintain, strengthen and fund our Public Health District?”

Charlene Burns

Family Nurse Practitioner