The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a motion to integrate the Snohomish Health District and Snohomish County. According to a county news release, this decision was made “to strengthen public health in Snohomish County and ensure public health remains a central focus of our region.”
Integrating the two entities has been considered for a number of years, and include creating the Ruckelshaus and Gossett reports in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Discussions with key stakeholders accelerated in December 2021, with presentations to the Snohomish Health District staff, the district’s board of health, and the Snohomish County Council in April and May of 2022. On May 31, the Snohomish Health District Board of Health voted unanimously on a resolution to support integration of the Health District and the County.
“Our priority is to strengthen public and environmental health in Snohomish County,” said County Council Chair and Board of Health member Megan Dunn. “As Snohomish County grows, we must adapt to ensure we will be able to meet the needs of our residents. Today’s action ensures we are prepared for the future public health needs of our county.”
Added Snohomish County Council Vice Chair and Board of Health member Jared Mead, who represents the council’s 4th District including Brier and Mountlake Terrace: “While the COVID-19 pandemic is not completely over just yet, now is the time to start transitioning to prepare for whatever may be coming next. A unified public health effort will ensure we are being as efficient as possible and using every opportunity to leverage county and public health assets for the benefit of all residents,” Mead said.
“Today’s action is another step towards providing more robust public health services to our residents,” said Snohomish County Councilmember and Board of Health Chair Stephanie Wright, whose 3rd District includes Edmonds, Lynnwood and Woodway. “We will find every opportunity available to us to strengthen public health, working to reestablish and expand clinical services, while addressing today’s threats and preparing for those that may be coming tomorrow.”
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said he is “personally committed to considering an expansion of direct services, including improving access to vaccinations, mental health care, and other vital services. We will partner with the board of health, county council, and other stakeholders to continue improving public and environmental health.”
As a follow-up to Wednesday’s vote, the Snohomish County executive will inform the board of health that Snohomish County will be withdrawing from the health district on Dec. 31, 2022. On Jan. 1, 2023, the new county health department will begin to function. All Snohomish Health District staff will become employees of the new county health department on Jan. 1, 2023 and administrative integration will occur to ensure finances, administration and other technical details are aligned.