Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen
Correspondent 

Brown was life of health council

 

February 7, 2018



Alida Brown’s retirement as coordinator of the Quay County Health Council after 25 years of improving local health may pass unnoticed by too many people.

Brown worked quietly, persistently and persuasively to garner government money and grants for programs that help Quay County residents deal with issues like obesity, diabetes, child health and substance abuse.

She has always celebrated results more than recognition

Even at the well-attended “come-and-go” reception in her honor on Jan. 18, there was no ceremony.

Brown even opened the health council’s gift to her — a simple, elegant silver bowl inscribed with a message of gratitude — quietly, surrounded by long-time health council members, then took it on a tour of the tables in the Tucumcari Convention Center’s Liberty Room.

The ceremony, brief and simple, occurred at the Tucumcari City Commission that followed the reception. Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield handed Brown a proclamation honoring her for her contributions and achievements.

Brown was the first and only coordinator of the Quay County Health Council.

When I attended a state Alliance of Health Councils rally last year during the legislative session, I learned that Brown’s colleagues statewide admire her as a pioneer in bringing health councils to the state.

The Con Alma Health Foundation, a major benefactor for state health programs, nominated Brown as a candidate for Health Hero of the Year last year.

As Brown enters well-earned retirement, state officials by and large no longer think local health councils deserve much attention or money. In last year’s session, a bill that would have restored $700,000 for health council funding failed — again.

The health council brings together hospitals, health clinics, mental health counselors, emergency medical responders, other health professionals, and the government officials they work with to solve common health problems.

In rural, resource-poor counties like Quay, this coordination is a necessity.

In Tucumcari, I have worked with Brown and the council on developing fitness trails and enhancing nutritional opportunities for kids in Tucumcari.

I was also a witness as Brown ushered state, city and county officials and health leaders through a year of workshops, hearings and decision making, working with the New Mexico Department of Health, that resulted in the county’s Home Visitation Program.

Home visitation counselors help families expecting children or who have kids up to 5 years old to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids.

Brown has persisted in her mission to improve Quay County’s health profile despite state government’s increasing tendency to push community health efforts aside.

Brown has had to find and secure grant funding to replace state funding to keep health council programs, and her own job, alive.

Brown’s replacement will be a part-time employee, and the council knows it can only expect part-time results. The council, however, is determined to keep up Brown’s legacy, even with minimal state government attention.

Public health is something people don’t think about unless it goes disastrously away.

I hope that is not a lesson the state must learn the hard way.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

stevenmhansen

@plateautel.net

 

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