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Health District Wins First-Ever Risk Management Award

The Health District of Northern Larimer County Takes The Lead On Organizational Risk

Due to their unique approach to risk management, their role in the community, and vision for the future, the Health District of Northern Larimer County has been named as the first recipient of the CSD Pool’s Risk Management Leadership Award.

The prospect of managing an organization’s risk can often seem daunting to achieve and difficult to fully realize in scope. A risk manager or risk management team is tasked with identifying all the known risks facing an organization, including those that have yet to be encountered.

The Health District has 130 full- and part-time employees and provides services to approximately 202,475 residents in Northern Larimer County. Even at this scale, the Health District has been able to find a way to realize their risk management goals.

“We truly believe that it is important to provide a safe and secure environment for both our staff and the clients we serve,” said Lorraine Haywood, the Health District’s Finance Director and risk manager.

Approach to Risk

As a district that specifically focuses on the community’s health services, the Health District encounters risks that are specific to their unique entity type, while also facing risks common to all public entities. One of those shared risks is cyber security.

Whether it is through the use of cell phones, email, or computers, cyber security is an area of risk all government entities must address, especially when transacting directly with customers. For the Health District, the stakes are even higher because they must safeguard patients’ medical information, records privacy, and be in complete compliance with HIPAA rules and regulations.

“Cyber security is a risk that the Health District takes very seriously,” Haywood said.

In order to comply with HIPAA mandates mentioned above, the Health District has focused on training their employees on data privacy as well as the security of their own network. In fact, to meet their goals, they completed a Cyber Security Assessment through NetDiligence, sponsored by the CSD Pool.

This service focuses on a network’s susceptibility to breach and highlights areas where improvements can be made. This can be a useful resource when an organization has access to user data, be it credit card information from a customer purchase or, in this case, medical records.

“The assessment was very helpful in confirming the areas of our internal security processes and procedures that we are doing well, and helped identify where we can become even stronger,” Haywood said.

In addition to this extensive assessment, the Health District has also employed eRisk Hub, a free resource available to all CSD Pool members, which provides management and staff access to a cyber-security learning center, identify fraud training, and post-data breach coaching.

“eRisk Hub provides many top-quality resources and trainings that we utilize on a regular basis,” Haywood said.

Beyond cyber security, the Health District has addressed other risk concerns by applying for Safety and Loss Prevention Grants through the CSD Pool. Using the funding available to many districts, they have purchased AED equipment and ergonomic computer desks for staff.

“We have plans to apply for future safety grants to help offset the cost of equipment that will provide a safe working environment for staff as well as the clients we serve,” Haywood said.

While the aforementioned are all key pieces of the risk management puzzle for the Health District, employee trainings effectively make up that puzzle’s frame. Currently, the Health District utilizes TargetSolutions to provide training to all staff.

“All Health District employees must complete driving-related training through TargetSolutions before they are permitted to drive a Health District vehicle,” Haywood said.

As the Health District continues to grow, it adds new services and locations to provide those services, which can increase the difficulty of managing risk. As this expansion occurs, the Health District ensures that all employees receive updated training in high-risk areas that may impact them or the clients, such as blood-borne pathogens or mental health services.

“There is always the challenge of identifying potential new risks and making sure that process and procedures are being followed for those risks that we are aware of,” Haywood said.

Role in Community

With most government entities, there is a direct link between district operations and servicing the community. That is especially so when considering the role of a Health Services District.

“[We] provide health services that address unmet needs in the community,” Haywood noted.

The Health District ensures that the community is educated about health issues facing individuals. They also promote health policy and system improvements at the local, state, and national level. One main goal is the engagement of a public education campaign to improve understanding of addiction as a treatable disease of the brain.

“We are working in several areas to improve access to mental health and substance use services in the community, both by helping to increase availability of services—especially for youth—and by finding innovative ways to connect individuals and families to resources,” Haywood said.

In addition, the Health District also works to provide a low-cost dental service to people in Northern Larimer County who do not have dental insurance.

Haywood stated that “the Health District has received several grants to assist individuals aged 60 and over who are not eligible for dental services under any other dental health care programs to receive dental care.”

Continuing to address risk remains one of the Health District’s most important goals throughout this year and beyond. Their focus includes the participation and development of their current safety committee.

As they remain a leader for health improvement in the community, the committee continues to meet on a regular basis, stay up to date on risk management best practices, and review new policies and procedures and more.

“Our safety committee is committed to continued process improvement in the area of risk management,” said Haywood.

Above all, as the Health District works to promote health policy and system improvements at the local, state, and even national level, they understand that progression and success go hand-in-hand. More importantly, it must be achieved from within their organization before it can spread anywhere else.

According to Haywood, “this award helps confirm that [the Health District is] heading in the right direction.”

The CSD Pool congratulates the Health District of Northern Larimer County as the first member to receive our Risk Management Leadership Award.

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