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City appoints Malberg-Fiftal to Whitefish’s health board seat

by Whitefish Pilot
| January 12, 2022 1:00 AM

The City of Whitefish has appointed Jessica Malberg-Fiftal to represent Whitefish on the Flathead City-County Board of Health for a three-year term.

At a special session prior to the regular City Council meeting on Jan. 3, council interviewed three candidates that applied for the health board seat; Kristen Riter and Shoshana Taylor were the other two candidates.

A recent change in the health board’s bylaws now allows the three incorporated cities in the county — Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Whitefish — to appoint a representative to serve on the board. Malberg-Fiftal will be the first person to represent Whitefish on the City-County Health Board.

Malberg-Fiftal grew up in the Flathead Valley and is a current Whitefish resident. She holds both a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science in public health. In her application, she stated that because the Board of Health oversees both the animal shelter as well as infectious disease prevention that her degrees would uniquely qualify her for the position.

She served on the health board throughout 2021 — she was appointed by Flathead County commissioners to fill a vacant spot last January — but was not among commissioners’ recent board appointees. Her term expired on Dec. 31.

According to her application, while she served on the board of health she also participated in two active committees including the COVID-19 and Personnel committees. She says she also supported the formation of the newly created Behavioral Health Committee.

“Going forward, I am very motivated to work as a part of this committee with our local stakeholders to further address the current significant mental health and substance abuse issues our community is facing,” she stated in the application.

She’s been involved in research of infectious diseases, studied multiple aspects of public health and volunteered with several organizations to provide reduced-cost medical services to animals in need.

Malberg-Fiftal says she also regularly assists the Flathead County Animal Shelter by utilizing her degree in veterinary medicine and her specialty certification in veterinary radiology.

She sought the position to help protect the health of the community.

“I am committed to working closely with the leadership of our city to continue to help protect the health of its residents as well as our community at large,” she wrote.

The Flathead County Board of Health was first created in an agreement between the City of Kalispell and the county in 1976. The board oversees the City-County Health Department.

A recent change in the interlocal agreement between the three cities in the county and Flathead County Commissioners now gives Whitefish and Columbia Falls formal representation on the health board.

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