Sep 262014

By Tammy Gray

“This is unique. It doesn’t exist anywhere in the U.S.,” Navajo County Emergency Preparedness Manager John Zimmerman told the board of supervisors regarding an agreement that will allow the Winslow Indian Health Services facility to dispense emergency medications to all area residents in the event of an outbreak or public health emergency.

The board approved the agreement during a meeting on Sept. 23.

Zimmerman explained that because Winslow Indian Health Services is technically a privately owned facility, held by the Navajo Nation, it would not normally have access to the national stockpile of public health emergency supplies. This means that in the event of an outbreak or other emergency, the facility would have to order from private companies and face a significant waiting period. For example, Zimmerman noted, countermeasures against Ebola are not currently available privately, having been snatched up by other countries. They are available from the national stockpile, however, and the agreement will allow IHS to receive these supplies within hours if needed. The facility agrees to use those supplies for both native and non-native populations in the area.

“This will be an open point of dispensation,” Zimmerman said. “This means they will also assist non-tribal, non-reservation residents in their service area.”

He explained that this includes residents of Winslow and neighboring communities, as well as tribal members who live in Coconino County but are physically closer to Winslow than Flagstaff.

“They are willing to do that. That has not happened in the United States,” he said. “This is a collaboration that is effective, and will save time, save money and save lives.”

Board members unanimously approved the agreement, with Chairman Jesse Thompson noting that he is proud to see the county and the tribe working together to create an agreement that sets a positive example for the rest of the country.

In other action Sept. 23, the board:

* Accepted a $41,000 victims rights program grant.

* Approved a memorandum of understanding with Alice’s Place to provide victim’s services.

* Accepted three grant awards from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $8,300, $2,560 and $64,215.

* Approved the extension of special use permits for five meteorological towers located northwest of Snowflake in the Dry Lake area.

The next regular board meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the county complex. A special meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30, to appoint a citizen to the seat on the board left vacant by the resignation of Sylvia Allen.