Community health makes a lot of common sense

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During my seminary years, a classmate from Alabama used a few “down-home” phrases that have stuck with me for over 50 years. One of them is “you’ve got a magnificent grasp of the obvious”. I’ve used it myself on numerous occasions. Like for this column.

Health care is so often thought of as just for an individual or a family. But with a little broader view of health care, we can obviously see it has to do with a whole community. A healthy person/family can be impacted by an unhealthy community. Look at the Zika virus challenge in Miami Beach!

Likewise when a community takes health care seriously, it can have a positive effect on individuals and their families. One form of community health services in north Idaho comes from the Panhandle Health District. Its logo as seen on its website is “Healthy People in Healthy Communities”.

Last week, I was part of a group introduced to PHD’s Emer-gency Pre-pared-ness program. It is only one of many programs they offer in north Idaho to keep our area aware of healthy practices for persons and our communities also.

A different form of community health service comes through Kaniksu Health Services, headquartered in Sandpoint. It is not a program-driven agency like Panhandle Health District. Rather, it is a health-care clinic, similar to where many of us go to see our primary doctor.

But because Kaniksu is structured differently, its focus can be broader than a traditional medical clinic. Kaniksu is a non-profit organization that is part of a Federally-funded effort to provide medical care for a broad segment of our area population.

Being a non-profit, it has a board of directors (of whom at least 51% are patients of Kaniksu). They work with the administrative staff to provide the fuller work of its medical services to a broad patient population. Kaniksu is one of about 1,200 centers nationwide that serve over 20 million patients.

For a time, my wife and I were patients of Kaniksu when our primary doctor became one of the physicians there. After he retired, we decided to move to a traditional clinic. Also, I served on theKaniksu board for a few years.

Next Tuesday, the Geezer Forum will focus its time on the work of Kaniksu Health Services. Its wide range of services to a wide range of people may not be part of your awareness. For instance, do you know it has two clinics not found in a regular medical practice: a dental clinic and a V.A. clinic?

Victoria King, CEO and Olivia Morlen, Director of Community Relations, will be our guides into the “world” of community health, and of Kaniksu Health Services in particular. They will expand our awareness of community health in general, share what their services are and speak to the wide demographic variety of folks they serve.

Please feel free to join us next Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. at the Community Room of Columbia Bank. You will likely discover new information that could serve you as well as the community better in the future.

Paul R. Graves, M.Div, is Geezer-in-Training of Elder Advocates, a consulting ministry on aging issues. You can reach Paul at 208-610-4971 or

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