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The structure of the South Central Public Health District

Posted at 9:13 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 09:15:58-04

MAGIC VALLEY — Health districts across the state are making decisions on how communities should be handling the COVID-19 pandemic with safe hygiene practices, facemask regulations, and other recommendations. As these decisions continue to be made, you may wonder who the people on your health board are, how they got there, and their responsibility.

The South Central Public Health District is comprised of nine members from across the region and one medical consultant. The medical consult is the only person required to have a background of some sort in the medical field. Despite this, the district's board brings people with different backgrounds and experiences together, allowing for a variety of input and information when contemplating a tough decision.

To become a board member of SCPHD, each county commission chooses a representative for their specific area. Typically it is a county commissioner, but counties have the option to choose a person who they feel can handle such a task. Once appointed, all county commissioners within the eight counties that make up the district take a vote. Every county has three commissioners, so twenty-four in total vote on who they feel should be members of the health district's board.

Once Idaho reached Stage Four of the Rebound plan, the governor announced that regional health districts would be the ones to make local decisions that seemed fit for specific areas.

"It's kind of a slow process, but in that process, I think we make better decisions because those decisions are informed and we have the opportunity to hear from everyone around the table," said Brent Reinke, an SCPHD Board Member and Twin Falls County Commissioner.

During meetings, the board members come together to discuss solutions for their communities. Counties who have instated their own mandates or ordinances instilled those policies and made those decisions through their city councils and mayors. In those specific instances, the district monitors those areas and is in regular communication with those commissioners, giving them guidance on how those particular instances should be handled.

The district is aware that installing a policy of that magnitude would affect a large number of people since it would be across all counties. It does not plan to pass any mandates or requirements unless the situation is dire. In which case, the board members would come together and vote on the topic at hand.

Still, no matter the decision, the board meets together and shares the common goal of being on the same page to help their residents and work with the community as much as they can. SCPHD Chair Linda Montgomery says they plan to continue to meet monthly.

"We do consider input and review things, things can change, and any added measures necessary to protect the health of our public will be taken into consideration and acted upon the board," said Montgomery.