The first Health, Human Service and Aging (HHSA) Committee meeting in several months took place on September 13, 2017, with a presentation from Tom Pristow, director of the Department of Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services, unveiling the Cuyahoga County Health and Human Service Strategic Plan. The plan is a result of legislation pushed by Cuyahoga County Councilman Dale Miller, which proposed a five-year HHS strategic plan, similar to the five-year economic development plan already enshrined in the county charter.
In partnership with The Center for Community Solutions, the county hosted a series of focus groups that requested input from county residents, as well as briefed them on the current service and direction of the department. The final report, available here, includes several goals, including the “No wrong door” policy, where citizens will be able to go into any county building and be able to access services that they need.
HHSA Committee Chair Yvonne Conwell asked how council would be kept up to date with the progress of the Strategic Plan. Director Pristow said that the HHS plan is designed to align with the overall Cuyahoga County Strategic Plan, and that HHS updates to council would be provided in alignment with the overall plan. Additionally, she inquired if the county can reach out to the city and county library systems to ensure that people who may be eligible for Medicaid would be able to sign up.
One of the main criticisms that came from the focus groups was the lack of emphasis from the county on seniors and senior issues. The final plan that was drafted by the County made serious strides to ensure that seniors were represented.
Councilman Miller remarked that he was pleased that such a comprehensive plan was put together, as well as the participation from citizens in the process. He was concerned that the plan is so broad that it is not necessarily strategic. He would like the county to create a summary document that boils the plan down to a few actionable items that the county will begin to emphasize.
In response to a question from Councilwoman Shontel Brown about the HHS levy, Director Pristow said that the existing plan assumes the current level of funding.
Councilwoman Conwell closed the session by reflecting on previous efforts by the county to ensure that citizens were engaged and aware of what the county was up to. She said that, since the adoption of the current government system, the communication strategy has lagged, and she would like to see more done to reach out to citizens, especially seniors.