RIO GRANDE COUNTY- For the past several weeks, Rio Grande Public Health and Rio Grande County Commissioners have been working to reorganize the Public Health Department in hopes of starting off the new year with a fresh start. During a meeting held by the board Dec. 30, discussions with Public Health Director Dr. Bankole made it clear there was still a lot of work to do.
In the Dec. 30 meeting, Dr. Bankole spoke about two large grants that the County received which helped with operating costs and other Public Health programs. The two grants were in violation with the state because the required deliverables had not been met. Dr. Bankole explained that he had already requested, and had been approved, for an extension for the grants in order to meet the deliverables in a timely matter.
The issues that were discussed included how funds were allocated through the Communities that Care grant and the Health Care Coalition grant. During the process of the state audit by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, it was discovered that some of the funding awarded through these two grants was not correctly spent and the Rio Grande Public Health Department was not meeting the deliverables or stipulations set by the grants.
During the discussion, Rio Grande Commissioners made it clear that they had not, up to this point, been made privy to the details about grants within the department and although they were happy to be finally brought into the loop, felt that the department was less than transparent in the past. Dr. Bankole outlined several steps he planned to take to make sure a monthly report was given to each commissioner for review before bringing grants to the table for approval.
Rio Grande County is the fiscal agent for several grants within the Public Health Department as well as grants that are filtered through the Health Care Coalition. Some questions that were raised by the board in regard to being the fiscal sponsor were what their role was in the Health Care Coalition’s grant decisions, how it benefits the county to serve as the fiscal sponsor and whether or not the steering committee for the Health Care Coalition had any bylaws.
Dr. Bankole was directed by the board to answer some, if not all of the questions asked by commissioners, in order to have more transparency in the future. The grants that were presented to commissioners during the meeting were not the only grants that posed questions and had not met deliverable requirements.
It was also discussed that CDPHE was still working with the county on an audit of the department and that the county was having to find and send financial documents for verification on how grants were handled throughout the years before the audit. At first, according to commissioners the department was considered low risk in the audit but now are considered moderate risk.
Dr. Bankole spoke to commissioners about having a monthly report delivered to each commissioner to help alleviate questions that were posed during the Dec. 30 meeting and that the grants will have been reviewed by staff, the director, the finance department and the county attorney before coming to the board for approval.
A work session to discuss the grant issue in further detail will be scheduled at the beginning of January. The Rio Grande County Commissioners approved the two grants to be sent to the state in a unanimous vote.