November 19, 2001 11:00 pm

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Nearly two months after receiving a written report analyzing the operation of the countys public and mental health provider, Union Countys oversight committee has deferred recommendations until after it meets, probably in January, with the reports author.

The county hired Jeffrey Davis, executive director of the Marion County Health Department, to analyze and report on the performance of the Center for Human Development that offers public and mental health services.

The county commissioners took no action on Daviss report, which was delivered Sept. 26, but asked the Health and Human Service Advisory Committee to review the issues during the committees Oct. 15 meeting and prepare a recommendation for the commissioners.

In October, several committee members said they had not read the report and asked to delay any discussion until the November meeting, held Monday.

County Commissioner Steve McClure, liaison to the advisory committee, told the committee Monday that he will ask Davis to visit Union County for a special meeting that probably will be held in January.

I think you need a face-to-face meeting, McClure said. Wed like this completed to everyones satisfaction.

The committee deferred any public discussion on the Davis report until after the January meeting.

McClure said this morning that he expected analysis of the reports to take some time.

I knew it was going to take awhile, he said. Youre dealing with an outside consultant. We need to take our time and answer these questions and get a resolution of these issues.

The county and CHD operate under a contract that authorizes the private not-for-profit corporation to provide public and mental health services for the county. After concerns about the CHD operation were raised last spring, the county decided to defer signing a new contract until after the issues were settled. The corporation continues to provide county services under the provisions of an existing contract.

Two reports were ordered by the county. In addition to Daviss report on the CHDs performance, a financial auditor, Bob Armstrong of the Oster Group, has been conducting an independent financial audit of the corporations books.

The auditor is waiting for correspondence from some state agencies, McClure said Monday. Its coming.

Although no date has been set for the financial report, it is expected to be finished by the first week in December, McClure said.

The Davis report offered a number of suggestions for changes in the CHD operation, but it strongly suggested that a lack of communication among all health care providers in Union County was a stumbling block to providing seamless countywide health services. The report urged the countys public and private health care providers to work through their differences and cooperate more fully.

The report also suggested that CHD develop a plan to respond to outbreaks of disease, add a registered nurse to its executive team, and communicate more closely with physicians in the county.

Copies of the report are available for public review at the county commissioners office, 1106 K Ave.