Director proposes expanding Board of Health

Grays Harbor Public Health Director Joan Brewster is pushing for an even larger Board of Health that could include city representation, health professionals or others.

Currently, the Grays Harbor Board of Health includes just the three Grays Harbor County commissioners. But Brewster points out that the board could be even larger. Of 30 boards of health around the state, she says 15 have expanded boards and 15 do not.

“An expanded board can help create a more visible public agenda, so that more residents have an opportunity to comment on or be involved in public health improvement,” Brewster said in a memo to the county commissioners. “Committees could be established under the jurisdictions of the Board and could bring forward a broader range of interests and diverse opinions.”

Brewster noted that elected officials would need to retain a majority of the board by state law and the county commissioners could still control the budget.

She noted that both big and small counties have expanded boards.

Mason County has a six-member board, including three commissioners, two hospital district representatives and a fire commissioner. Clallam County has seven members, including the three commissioners, a hospital district representative, a physician, a city representative and a regular citizen.

“Commitment to public health improvement can be effectively championed by community leaders,” Brewster said. “They can provide knowledge about health issues to the Board of Health and can convey to residents, business leaders and other sectors, the pervasive importance of public health to our well-being as a community.”