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Friday, December 5, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

Central Health board reappointment stirs passions

The reappointment of Katrina Daniel to the Central Health board of managers turned unexpectedly heated at last week’s Council Public Health and Human Services Committee meeting.

Ultimately, committee members unanimously recommended Daniel’s reappointment. The full City Council will consider the nomination at its Dec. 11 meeting.

“I believe that experience matters,” said Council Member Mike Martinez. “And having someone that has served and that knows where the Central Health board is and where it is going is also important for continuity’s sake.”

Those who opposed Daniel’s reappointment said they would prefer the reappointment be delayed in light of the 38 other applications received for the county appointments, as well as the fact that a new City Council would soon be taking over. All three people who spoke against her appointment are on the Restore Rundberg project.

Monica Guzman, who ran against Daniel in the District 4 Council race, pointed out that the Travis County Commissioners Court is waiting on input from its newer members for its appointments, and urged the committee to do the same.

Central Health Board Member Rebecca Lightsey advocated for Daniel’s reappointment, and highlighted the large number of issues the board was currently tackling. She said that there would soon be two other positions open, including her own.

“I think it’s really critical that we have no more vacancies,” said Lightsey, who called Daniel’s leadership “superb.”

Central Health Board Member Clark Heidrick also praised Daniel.

“We’d like her to be our chair,” said Heidrick. “She understands our issues. She has been diligent. And she has the rarest of all qualities: She has very good judgment … I can’t imagine anyone who has been a better member of this board.”

Lightsey said that Central Health has been looking at the work going on through the Restore Rundberg program and was hoping to do something similar to the community engagement work that took place when building the new Southeast Health and Wellness Center in Dove Springs.

When asked whether the Restore Rundberg project had been able to collaborate with Central Health, the project’s Community Health Representative Mary Jo Hernandez demurred.

“I would hope to engage them even more productively in the future. We have asked for their financial support for the Rundberg Health Initiative. At the present time, that has not been acted upon,” said Hernandez. “It would be great if we could have more interaction than it’s been possible to have.”

This article has been changed since it was first published in order to clarify that the applications were for the Travis County appointments to the board and that the board was looking to engage the community in Rundberg, not build another wellness center.
 

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council Health and Human Services Committee: An Austin City Council committee charged with looking at such issues as income disparity, the regional SNAP program, and healthcare.

Travis County Central Health: Health organization that provides care and improves service for uninsured individuals in Travis County.

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