County votes to move forward with negotiations to outsource health department functions to Alluvion

County Commissioners voted 3-0 during a special meeting on June 4 to direct county staff to begin negotiating a contract with Alluvion Health to provide some functions of the City-County Health Department.

County and City Commissioners met May 30 to discuss the idea of outsourcing some functions of the health department, as proposed by Alluvion.

Alluvion was previously the Community Health Care Center and a part of the county.

County considering outsourcing public health functions to Alluvion

Last year, the agency began splitting from the county and since Jan. 1, has operated as an independent agency.

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It remains a federal qualified healthcare center.

Alluvion took with it many county employees, including Tanya Houston, who was the health officer at CCHD.

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Last week, county officials said they were exploring option to outsource some functions to Alluvion, including prevention, family health and some administrative duties.

In February, the commission approved a contract with Alluvion for interim health office services. Essentially, Houston will continue the duties of the county health officer for the time being.

The contract approved by commissioners runs March 1 through Aug. 31, but could be extended and pays Alluvion $3,500 monthly.

Alluvion also took over administrative duties for CCHD, including prevention services, emergency preparedness, communications, family health services, environmental health and accounting under the agreement.

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Carey Ann Haight, chief civic deputy county attorney, said that the resolution approved June 4 would allow the parties to move forward in negotiating to see what a relationship with Alluvion might look like.

Commissioner Jane Weber said any negotiated contract would be subject to final review and approval by the commission. City officials have also asked to be part of the negotiating process since the city contributes $250,000 annually to CCHD operations and relies on the agency for some regulatory tasks like inspections for restaurants, day cares, tattoo parlors and other businesses.

Weber said that it was apparent to her from last week’s joint meeting that the city was concerned with sustainability and financial stability.

To address that, as well as the county’s interest, to include weekly or bi-weekly financial reports from Alluvion so county and city officials have the full scope.

Trista Besich, chief executive officer of Alluvion, said that would be inappropriate and that the agency doesn’t generate weekly financial reports. She said some debt is being paid off in June and said that a pro forma for the health department services Alluvion is proposing to assume would be more appropriate since the agency’s capital acquisitions are unrelated to those operations.

Weber said she thinks the county needs the financial details to make a good decision.

“I just feel like we need to know the financial position of the organization,” Weber said.

Since the agency split from the county, they’re no longer privy to those details and Weber said she wanted to be sure any agreement protects the county employees who would operate under Alluvion in the potential agreement.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said he understands the concern, but if they were contracting with any other private entity, that request wouldn’t be honored.

Weber said this is different because this potential arrangement would affect quite a few county employees.

Commissioners didn’t add any conditions to the resolution related to the financials during the June 4 meeting.

Briggs said he’s hoping the negotiating process can be completed sooner rather than later to determine if the arrangement is a go or not, but said it’s not likely to be done by the end of this fiscal year, which is June 30.