By Christ Baron
Forks Forum Editor
Once a year the Clallam County Board of Health convenes a meeting in Forks. Tuesday, Sept. 19, was this year’s meeting.
The meeting was due to start at 1:30 p.m. but because of ongoing road construction, folks coming from Port Angeles arrived closer to 2 p.m. All three Clallam County Commissioners — Bill Peach, Mark Ozias and Randy Johnson — made it to the meeting.
Up first was a presentation from West End Outreach Services. Pam Brown, who has been the WEOS director for about four years is leaving and returning to Spokane where she worked previous, introduced her replacement: Tanya MacNiel.
West End Outreach Services has been serving the residents of Clallam and Jefferson Counties since 1976. It is the only public mental health agency in the state that is part of a hospital.
Brown said that WEOS also operates the Hope Center, which is located on Founders Way. The center offers a laundry facility, meals and is a day program. Case managers work out of the Hope Center and also offer a chemical dependency program and bilingual services. Brown estimated that 60 percent seen there have a co-substance abuse problem.
Brown said that cuts in funding have created financial challenges for WESOS. “We would love to offer more employment and housing services,” she said, she added that prevention services would be a nice addition to services they provide but that there is no funding.
Brown explained the evaluation process when a person needs mental health help and that jails are often where they end up instead of a facility.
“There is currently a two-month wait to get into Western State (Hospital),” Brown said.
“One thing that would help is to help parents to be the best they can be and to prevent the poverty, abuse and neglect that is sometimes the starting point of many mental health issues.”
MacNiel shared her thoughts on the need for telepsychiatry for rural folks —that it is not allowed in our state.
“Forks is a great community,” Brown added. “Community members care about folks and help us out.”
Public health nurse Chris Rubin spoke on harm reduction through the Syringe Exchange Program. With education about Naloxone (a drug that reverses the effect of opioids), training and distribution, as well as behavioral health counseling resources, harm reduction is one way public health can reduce the harmful consequences of high-risk behavior for both individuals and communities.
Port Angeles has had a needle exchange since 2006. Doses of Naloxone have been donated by the University of Washington and some have been funded through the county. Hospital commissioner Don Lawley asked why the Sheriff’s Department has not been trained in the use of Naloxone, while community police have.
Bringing the needle exchange program back to Forks was discussed. In Port Angeles, the program sees about 35-40 people each week. A decrease in overdoses in 2016 was noted.
Also discussed was the expansion outpatient treatment clinics.
Also discussed was Secure Medicine Return Regulations and a future public hearing to be set and Tribal Health Mutual Aid Operations.
Another item of discussion was the impact of cuts to local solid waste financial assistance. Of about 39 counties in Washington State about half have indicated that they plan to reduce services due to these cuts.
From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, the Forks Elks Lodge (941 Merchant Road) will host a fundraiser for Orlando, a former Forks Elementary School student who has been diagnosed with cancer. There will be food, silent auction and a henna tattoo booth.
Orlando and his family need help as he is receiving chemotherapy five days a week at Children’s Hospital in Seattle for a minimum of nine months.
Food and activities are by donation.
To donate an auction item or for questions or more information, call or text Bill Plumley at 360-461-0948.
Fam tour in Forks
A group of travel professional tour operators and independent travel agents from the UK stopped in Forks on Monday and had lunch at Pacific Pizza with Forks Chamber of Commerce director Lissy Andros. The group visited Seattle and sites there before heading to the Olympic Peninsula and a stop at Lake Crescent and then on to the Hoh Rain Forest. They then traveled on to Portland, Ore.