Pinal County receives $ 3.4 million in funding for immunization

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Pinal County will accept $ 3,387,435 from the federal government to hire a vaccine equity employee and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to underserved communities, the public health services board recently decided.

The move overturns his September decision not to take the funds.

The board of directors voted 3-2 on Nov. 3 to receive the funds with an amendment proposed by Kevin Cavanaugh, District 1, that the public health department or designates will not assist the US government in setting enforcement or enforcement of federal quarantine and isolation orders. In addition, if the County of Pinal becomes aware of such a mandate, the health department will immediately notify the clerk of the board of directors who will organize a special session to discuss the action to be taken.

The dissidents were Cavanaugh and Jeff Serdy, District 5.

“(L) the grant, in my opinion, would require us to hire someone – an actions coordinator,” Cavanaugh said in a discussion before the vote. “I think these are non-attributable expenses – we’ll send them to a contractor. We’ve been paying contractors over the last $ 15,000 to $ 20,000 a day to administer vaccines, and I think we could probably do it more efficiently locally … Another problem is we didn’t know we had needed a public health equity coordinator until the federal government had a grant attached to it, ”he said.

The funds will be used for mobile units to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, Pinal County director of public health Tascha Spears said at the November 3 meeting.

“Right now we’re being asked to provide resources that we don’t currently have, so we’re asking through this particular item that we get the funds to be able to offer mobile units to areas in need or to vaccinate. at home or, for example, in assisted living facilities, long-term care facilities, etc. She said.

“This grant does not force anyone to be vaccinated. This grant is just money the public health department can use to help administer the vaccine, ”Pinal County District Attorney Kent Volkmer told the board. “It doesn’t force anyone to meet with public health. It does not allow public health to enter anyone’s room or force a needle into anyone’s arm. This is not the purpose of this grant.

Volkmer said the board, in approving the amendment, is virtually providing conditional acceptance.

“I know the explicit concern is that the federal government is going to come in and say ‘Aha. We have you now because, you know, we’ve got all this money and we’re going to start isolating or quarantining people through edicts or a presidential decree. What it does is it gives, again, a very explicit direction – and I would almost call this conditional acceptance – where the board is saying to public health, “OK, we’ll take it.” We will allow you to use that money, but in case it does, come back before us so we can cancel it. This is really the effect of this friendly amendment, ”he said before the vote.

Council voted 3-2 on September 1 not to accept the funding, with President Stephen Miller, District 3; and Vice President Mike Goodman, District 2, Dissenters.

“This position would fund a nurse presumably at around $ 65,000 and the other millions (dollars) would go to an as yet unnamed entrepreneur, and so we don’t yet know anything about entrepreneurs, what are the goals and goals except vaccine equity, so I’ll move a motion if we’re ready for that, that we don’t approve point B of the public health agenda, ”Cavanaugh said at the health services board meeting public on September 1.

Rethinking funding

The decision to re-accept the funds was made at the Public Health Services Board meeting on October 27. The Board of Directors voted that the awarding of the grant between the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Pinal County Public Health Services District be on the Nov. 3 agenda for discussion and another vote.

The funds are intended for specific use, according to an intergovernmental agreement document: “To improve vaccine equity within local jurisdictions, local health departments serving racial and ethnic communities at increased risk of COVID-19 will put implementing their plans… to collaborate with other non-immunization focused programs within local health departments or local government that have community engagement programs, initiatives in place or reaching these communities. Additionally, local health departments will hire a vaccine equity coordinator who will coordinate efforts within the county. COVID-19 immunization equity funding can also be used, but not limited to, for personnel, equipment / supplies, travel, and operating overhead. “

The change is an amendment to a grant the county has already received, Volkmer told supervisors on Oct. 27.

“We call it a subsidy, but it’s not a subsidy in the typical sense, and I think we need to clarify that. Normally a grant is competitive and you have to make a pitch and you have to convince them that you are the best… to get that money, ”he said. “It’s actually an amendment to a grant that we got a long time ago where they said, ‘Hey, this is the money we’re putting aside for you. If you can develop a program that uses those funds appropriately, you get that money. ‘ So we’re not competing with Pima County, we’re not competing with anyone else. This is money that has already been allocated and earmarked specifically for the County of Pinal.

The grant is the Sixth Amendment for funds, Volkmer said.

“So what we’re here for today is really this last chunk of money. To date, approximately $ 147 million has been administered statewide in Arizona; in Pinal County… a total of about… $ 14.5 million, ”he said. “Essentially, about $ 350,000 will be used for the equity coordinator; the remaining money will be used for pop-up clinics and to outsource a third party to provide services that we cannot provide in-house.

Pinal County receives several hundred grants a year that are discussed during its annual budget process, Supervisors Chairman Miller said later in the Oct. 27 meeting.

“(P) maybe because we had little information – or what seemed like some sort of summary information when we first broached this – it’s because we talk about it during the budget process… We plan what we’re going to do to hinder the subsidies … so that we don’t have to raise taxes so that we can still provide the services that we are looking for. And especially in our county where we … face challenges with transportation and areas underserved by many county services. he said. “(L) the policy of this council should be that we want you to provide the services to as many people as possible.”

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