Rural Health Summit seen as collaborative effort

Eve Thompson
Martha McLeod is the executive director of North Country Health Consortium

Fifty Siskiyou County leaders are scheduled to participate in the first Rural Health Collaboration Summit Aug. 10 in an effort to ensure that residents can count on quality healthcare every day.

Hosted by College of the Siskiyous, the Summit is the culminating project of a competitive “Building Better Communities” grant COS received from the Wal-Mart Workforce and Economic Opportunity Initiative.

“This is a very important opportunity,” said College of the Siskiyous President Randy Lawrence. He described keynote speaker Martha McLeod as “an expert in creating successful collaborative approaches to rural health solutions. She’s a dynamo! I’m sure she’ll inspire us as we celebrate progress to date and move on it to build fresh perspectives to healthcare.”

McLeod is the executive director of North Country Health Consortium, a not-for-profit health network in northern New Hampshire. She has worked with state, federal and private foundations to provide member agencies with the resources and technical assistance to respond to community health needs.

Diane Strachan, the program development consultant and facilitator of the Summit, says, “Martha has faced and overcome many of the same challenges we face in Siskiyou County. She brings a unique expertise to this workshop.”

“This is not just another meeting,” said Strachan. “Representatives of mental and public health offices, hospice, law enforcement, education, child care councils, Karuk Head Start, judges, the district attorney’s office, the board of supervisors, and college instructors will be creating strategies to better serve our community.

“This is an action workshop; participants will be engaged every minute they’re here. We’ll be assessing current needs and values, the economic climate, challenges, uncertainties, political factors, funding trends, technological and communication factors and create a practical map for a healthy Siskiyou County future.”

Lawrence said, “I’m particularly proud of College of the Siskiyous for hosting this event. Most people don’t know that COS is one of twenty community colleges nationwide that received a grant intended to improve economic prosperity in rural communities.”  

The $86,000 grant is administered by the American Association of Community Colleges. The Summit will be held at College of the Siskiyous’ Rural Health Sciences Institute.

“We’re looking forward to strengthening our region’s educational foundation,” said Lawrence. “We want to develop collaborative strategies to maximize our limited resources so we can provide comprehensive health services to Siskiyou County communities. We’ll find out what’s working and what’s not, what type of resources we need to progress, and then we’ll build on that foundation.”

Three California leaders in the healthcare field will bring their expertise to the workshop. Stephanie Leach is the assistant Vice-Chancellor of Nursing and Allied Health department of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office; Linda L. Zorn is the Director of Regional Health Occupations Resource Center for Butte College; and Patricia Girczyc is the interim dean of Health Occupations and Public Service for College of the Redwoods.  

“Their strength is in helping people from different areas collaborate; they have incredible funding knowledge,” said Strachan. “They’ll bring a fresh perspective to support the great talent of our local leaders.”