Friday, September 24, 2004

Health director on governor?s council

St. Luke?s community health center shares similar goals

Express Staff Writer

Erin Hart

Erin Hart, director of the St. Luke?s Center for Community Health in Hailey, has been nominated to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne?s Coordinating Council for Families and Children.

With three task forces--early learning, substance abuse and mental health--the agenda of the governor?s council corresponds directly with the goals of the community health center.

When Kempthorne took office he pledged as part of his platform to push an agenda called Idaho?s Generation of the Child, a mission to focus on child and family education, health and welfare.

?The goal of the coordinating council is not only to build resources in Idaho, but to make them more effective and efficient and to build on areas where they are lacking,? Hart said.

At early round tables of the council, Hart participated in an inventory of what services are available for families and children in Idaho. She will begin her two-year appointment in October, deepening her interest and participation in bringing better support services not only to the Wood River Valley, but also to families and children statewide.

?The council is looking at ways organizations, including hospitals, churches and schools, can pool resources and learn from one another,? Hart said. She added that when she discovered the mission of the council she was encouraged by how similar the work was to what the Hailey center does on a local level.

?We are supporting a lot of family assistance organizations here,? Hart said. ?I hope to represent them in a supportive and accurate way. I think we are doing great things in Blaine County. It is pretty amazing that a small rural hospital has a center like we have.?

The St. Luke?s Center for Community Health was established by a group of women in 1992 as the Women?s Resource Center.

?Especially, since we changed our name, we have been providing services to everybody in the community,? Hart said. The center helps people find food and shelter and also helps people work with their physical and mental health problems, which can be related to abuse, both physical and chemical.

Hart said the center?s approach to providing help to people in Blaine County relates to the goals of the state council.

?It is about getting away from thinking that we are doing things for people. We are helping them do things for themselves,? Hart said. ?We look at them from a strengths perspective by identifying a positive place to begin. We assume there is an answer. It is a healthier way to do this work.?

When looking for a solution to a specific problem, Hart said, it is important to ?take a deep breath and talk with peers.?

With three women with advanced degrees working at the Hailey center, the depth of knowledge and experience is remarkable, Hart said. She hopes her position on the council will help make the St. Luke?s center an even more powerful outlet for family and child services.

?It is great to know what else is going on in the state. My participation on the council will be invaluable to us. It will broaden our referral base. I?m excited about this opportunity,? she said.

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