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Whitefish gets seat on county health board

by HEIDI DESCH
Whitefish Pilot | October 20, 2021 1:00 AM

Whitefish will have representation on the Flathead City-County Health Board beginning next year.

The health board was first created in an agreement between the City of Kalispell and Flathead County in 1976. The board is responsible for overseeing the activities of the Flathead City-County Health Department.

A recent agreement approved by the three municipalities in the county and Flathead County Commissioners gives Whitefish and Columbia Falls both formal representation on the health board.

City Manager Dana Smith recently told Council that once Whitefish in 2005 moved from a third-class city to a second-class city based on population changes it needed to provide a health board. She said the most cost-effective means of doing so for the cities is to be part of the county board.

“I recommend that it is in the best interest of the City of Whitefish to consider an effective and efficient means to provide a board of health for its residents, especially given the impacts on the Whitefish community when it comes to infectious disease management, immunizations, home health, air quality, sewage and septic, public accommodations, food safety, and other areas of public health provided by the health department,” she said.

Discussions regarding Whitefish’s participation in the agreement have been ongoing since January 2020, but were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing challenges.

Whitefish will be responsible for making an appointment to the board with a term beginning in January 2022.