Board of Health
I attended the Cowlitz County Board of Health meeting Tuesday, Aug. 15, where the county’s Syringe Exchange Program was discussed. Wow, what an eyeopener! From the outset, the commissioners seemed to ignore they were members of the Cowlitz County Board of Health. They seemed to ignore that SEP is a public health policy, aimed at decreasing the spread of infectious and contagious diseases. They seemed to ignore that SEP is a vital component of the continuum of care for addicts. They also appeared to ignore that we have an opioid crisis in our community, making it all the more imperative that SEP remain in place. They also ignored RCW 70.06.060 which outlines the, “Powers and Duties of the local Health Board.” They quite possibly broke the law by denying addicts a component of treatment, because addicts may be protected under the American Disabilities Act.
As is often the case in a situation like this, someone has to be blamed. A “sacrificial lamb” has to be offered up to appease the angry gods — or political base. This meeting was no exception. The county commissioners dating back to 1999 were placed on the “sacrificial altar.”
I served on the Cowlitz County Mental Health and Substance Advisory Board for over 12 years, including a time as chair. I’ve watched our HHS staff give exceptional leadership to our county and region. Their efforts have been the envy of other departments in our state due to their creative and exceptional delivery of services and programs. They are the most professional and well informed staff you will ever find.
There are those in our county (including one commissioner in particular), who appear to be focused on dismantling our HHS, with hostile remarks and behavior, rather than creating and maintaining good public health policy and exceptional mental health and substance abuse services. We can’t let that happen.
Don’t let a misguided few have the last word. The consumers of our HHS services need and deserve continued quality care and treatment.
I would add that I’m pleased the Cowlitz Family Health Center is taking over the Syringe Exchange Program.
A better way
I would like to know when drugs such as heroin became legal to use in public? A recent Daily News front page picture depicted the act of an addict injecting himself. I call that bad judgment. Alcohol is legal, but people get arrested for being under the influence in public.
In the future, I would hope news of drug problems could be handled in a different manner. Concentrate on rehabilitation avenues and less on glorifying the act.
I sympathize with addicts who may be homeless and hopeless. It is up to them to make changes, but they need resources and support. I personally know the helpless feeling of dealing with a person who has fought addiction for years.
On another note, I understand there is a statewide burn ban in effect. The same article includes a person standing in front of a fire outside his tent. I don’t need to elaborate.
Did you read your editorial page Sunday? Absolute garbage. Monopolies lead to that. Didn’t you tell me Michael Gerson is conservative? That explains a lot. Is that why the door at the journalism college is red?