Last Friday I split my time between two informative and important work sessions. I am glad I did because I was able to gain valuable insights on several topics that are vital to our community and will have implications in the public domain.
The first session was hosted by COMCARE and was titled Building Partnerships: Integrated Health Homes. It was an intense conversation about integrating behavioral health and medical provision in the same location. It covered barriers and solutions along with payment streams and incentives. Chase Gray, the regional director of HealthTeamWorks, helped inform and facilitate.
I attended the first half of the four hour workshop and received information about other jurisdictions that were moving to integrated health homes and the successes and difficulties they have had in the change. As health reform continues and as mental health provision escalates, this conversation will become very valuable to the stakeholders, providers, practitioners, funders, and consumer/clients in Sedgwick County. I am sure not every pitfall, roadblock, challenge was discussed in the session but it was certainly a good start.
The second session I attended was the REAP 2013 Legislative Policy summit sponsored by the Regional Economic Area Partnership. My fellow commissioner Dave Unruh is the Chairman of the group. The mission of REAP is to “Guide state and national actions that affect economic development in the region and adopt joint actions among member governments that enhance the regional economy.” Each year REAP adopts a legislative platform and cultivates relationships with area legislators to gain favorable outcomes for the region and the State of Kansas.
This session was broken up into several topics of interest to the participants and the region. A panel of Commissioners from the representative Counties gave a baseline view of what is happening in the region presently to set the groundwork for the day. The first topical offering was titled Transportation: Strategies and Projects with Regional Impact and featured Secretary Mike King of KDOT and Steve Spade of Wichita Transit.
The afternoon started with a panel discussion of workforce needs and skills gap in the region. Panelists from three different industry sectors discussed their companies’ needs and the future of workforce around the region. This insightful conversation centered on technical training, available trained workforce and the limitations on a company that cannot find suitable trained manpower to fill their workforce.
The final topic was water. This panel was moderated by Mayor Marcey Gregory of Goddard, the REAP water sub-committee chair. The panel consisted of state Representative Jack Thimesch, Kansas Water Office director Tracy Streeter, and Vin Kissick, board member of the Lower Ark Basin Advisory committee. This conversation centered around the Governor’s call to initiate, complete and implement a 50 year water plan for Kansas. Certainly, that was a pertinent, critical and timely topic affecting the economic viability of the REAP area of influence. The good news is that REAP along with the Prosperity Plan effort have focused on water issues for some time and have made that an organizational priority several years before the recent call to action.
I was pleased to participate in both sessions that day. The information and data received along with the panel discussion insights enhanced my understandings of all of the critical issues discussed. And these are critical issues to the citizens of Sedgwick County.
That is all for this week. Thanks for letting me get a word in edgewise.
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