County to vote June 8 on Snohomish Health District integration

EVERETT, Wash., June 1, 2022 – The Snohomish Health District Board of Health unanimously passed a resolution supporting integration of the Health District and Snohomish County during its meeting yesterday. The next step will be consideration of a motion by the Snohomish County Council on June 8, 2022, to formally begin the process of integration.

According to the press release, discussions regarding integrating the Snohomish Health District into Snohomish County were ongoing for at least ten years with the goal of stabilizing and prioritizing public health.

“This unity of purpose and process was only possible because of the specific partnerships and personalities in key leadership positions at the Board of Health, the Snohomish County Council, and the Snohomish County Executive Office,” the Snohomish County Executive’s Office states in a memo to County Councilmembers dated May 24, 2022. “The last two years have shown that a unified Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County effort improves the delivery of public health services, minimizes bureaucratic obstructions, provides unity of purpose, and increases resilience. By permanently unifying, we can make formal what has been merely informal the last two years.”

Benefits of the District-County integration mentioned by the Executive Office are the following:

  • A more unified effort to the Fentanyl/Heroin/Opioids Crisis
  • Better collaboration on Disease Prevention and Control
  • Improved management of volunteers for sheltering issues
  • Stronger leveraging position for acquiring competitive grants
  • Streamlined Permitting process
  • Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts
  • Additional leverage to address nuisance properties

An agenda for the Snohomish County Council meeting will be available here once it is posted.

Governance, Structure, and Staff

The new board of health would have representatives from public health professionals, cities, Tribes, and the County Council. The Snohomish Health District would be moved to the county as a whole and its staff would become Snohomish County employees. The Health Department would still be run by a director and rely on the talents of a health officer.

County leaders have committed to safeguarding health district and county staff as a result of integration.

Formal process of creating a Public Health Snohomish County

The administrative process of the District-County integration would take approximately six months after the June 8 county council vote, with Public Health Snohomish County operating as a county Department of Health by January 1, 2023.

  • First, on May 20, 2022, the Snohomish Health District Administrative Officer and County Executive held an all staff meeting with Snohomish Health District employees to talk about their commitments to public health and SHD employees.
  • Second, on May 25, 2022, the Snohomish County Council convenes during their General Legislative Session to discuss the memorandum from the County Executive about SHD and County integration.
  • Third, on May 31, 2022, the Board of Health of the Snohomish Health District would hold a Special Meeting to discuss the memorandum and consider a resolution to integrate with Snohomish County.
  • Fourth, June 8, 2022, the Snohomish County Council, meeting in General Legislative Session, would pass a Motion to leave the Snohomish Health District, beginning the formal process of integration and creating a Health Department.

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