Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Commissioners: County needs better PR

Blaine County to issue web-based senior care updates

Express Staff Writer

“It’s important for us to have a proactive strategy
in terms of our communications.
We’ve been taking a defensive approach,
reacting to things as they come up.”
Jacob Greenberg
Blaine County commissioner



    Blaine County Commissioners Larry Schoen and Jacob Greenberg said Tuesday that the county needs to improve its communications strategy during the transition from Blaine Manor to Safe Haven.
    The county is in negotiations with Safe Haven Health Care of Pocatello to have the company take over operations at Blaine Manor in Hailey until the company’s new assisted-living and skilled-nursing facility can be built in north Bellevue.
    Safe Haven representative Dave Hennessy said Tuesday that the facility has received final approval from the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission and is in the process of gaining state approval.  
    “Things are moving according to schedule,” he said.
    County Administrator Derek Voss said the legal, financial and administrative aspects of the transition process are all moving forward, but that the county needs to make sure it is communicating clearly with the public and with Blaine Manor employees regarding the process.
    “We need to make sure we are [communicating] as well as possible,” he said. “We have a number of communication avenues that we have little control over. We need to make sure the message we want to get out is being sent.”
    Voss said news articles in the Idaho Mountain Express represent “[the reporter’s] interpretation of what is being said” at county meetings, not necessarily the message that commissioners would like to drive home.
    He said a county communications strategy would allow the commissioners to get their interpretation of events out to the public, and allow the board the ability to share some of the “more mundane things” that are discussed in skilled-nursing transition meetings.
    Greenberg said he agrees with Voss, adding that a communications strategy should anticipate and address public concerns.

“It’s important for us to have a proactive strategy
in terms of our communications.
We’ve been taking a defensive approach,
reacting to things as they come up.”
Jacob Greenberg
Blaine County commissioner

     “It’s important for us to have a proactive strategy in terms of our communications,” he said. “We’ve been taking a defensive approach, reacting to things as they come up.”
    However, Schoen said that sometimes communication from the county does need to be defensive. One example, he said, was when the grassroots Committee to Save Blaine Manor issued a news release last week stating that the county did not have the legal authority to turn Blaine Manor’s operations over to Safe Haven.
    “Who anticipated a letter from some group seeking to disrupt the process?” he said. “The state legislators did not consult with us before they took this [request] to the state attorney general’s office, so we didn’t have any choice but to be reactive.”
    Schoen said he is not sure how the county can best disseminate information about senior care, as the county does not have a social-media presence or communications staff—and, he added, the Idaho Mountain Express has thoroughly covered the issue.
    “The one newspaper in our community that provides news of this nature is always present and always follows up,” he said.
    Schoen and Greenberg did agree to begin providing “briefs” updating the public on the skilled-nursing transition process. The briefs will be posted on the Blaine County website the Wednesday after meetings of the skilled-nursing-transition committee, which occur every other Monday.
    Schoen said he hopes to post the first update today, May 15. Briefs can be viewed at
Kate Wutz:

    Editor’s note: Articles in the Idaho Mountain Express depict a fair and accurate picture of the news occurring during public meetings. “Interpretation” exists only in deciding what issues to cover, not in interpreting the subject matter itself.

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