Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
September 03, 2013
POLK COUNTY -- Polk County Service Integration Teams (SITs) know how to spend money.
SITs work in each school district in the county, plus Grand Ronde/Willamina and Amity, providing a safety net to those in need -- whether it be with rent assistance, utility bill payments or help paying for groceries.
They are given a small budget each fiscal year -- about $6,000 in the bigger districts like Dallas and Central. That money is expected to stretch -- really stretch in some cases -- to answer the requests of families and individuals in need.
Now, thanks to a $15,000 gift from Salem Health, the parent company of West Valley Hospital in Dallas, those teams will have more to work with.
If SITs were to just pay dollar-for-dollar the amount needed to assist families, their budgets would disappear fast. In the 2012-13 fiscal year, the teams funded a combined 144 requests for assistance. Those requests can range from $15 to $900, with an average expenditure of $280.
To make that money last the entire year, the teams use outreach and collaboration as its model. Local businesses, school districts, county and city officials, and service organizations meet to brainstorm ideas on how to meet needs without spending too much of the limited funding. Through donations, discounts or volunteer work, often they are successful, said Michelle Bornfleth, service integration coordinator.
Representatives of the Community Health Education Center at Salem Health attended recent meetings and decided the center could help offer what the teams have the least of: money.
"They wanted to be a partner and knowing that they couldn't attend all the meetings, they felt this was a way to support health-related requests," Bornfleth said.
Bornfleth said Salem Health's donation will be split among the teams and used for requests involving health care or programs promoting health.
While $15,000 may not sound like much, Bornfleth said it will give the teams a $1,500 to $3,000 boost in their budget.
"I think it will definitely make an impact," Bornfleth said. "It's increased all of the teams' ability to meet needs."
Bornfleth said teams often get requests not necessarily for health care services, but the co-pays for appointments and prescription drugs.
"This gives us extra to fill in the gaps," Bornfleth said. "We hope this will make them (team budgets) stretch even further."