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COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS  Public Health Human Services Year in Review
Cook County Communications

COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS Public Health Human Services Year in Review

By: Alison McIntyre, Cook County Public Health and Human Services Director

COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA   January 14, 2023  (LSNews)  The Cook County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) department contains a team of 32 staff who provide a wide range of mandated and supportive services to county residents. In addition to our staff, the PHHS department contracts with local and regional service providers in the areas of child support, substance use disorder assessment and treatment services, in-home support services, and a variety of public health programs. Our department mission is “supporting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our community.”

Staff Updates

In 2022, twelve staff positions turned over due to resignation, retirement, and internal job transfers, marking an unprecedented new level of turnover for our team. Cross training staff across program areas continues to be a priority going into 2023 as we work to minimize the impact on staff and the people we serve when positions turnover.

We welcomed twelve new staff in 2022 to backfill these positions and in new positions, developed in response to emerging community needs. Newly created or reconfigured positions in 2022 include the coordinated mental health crisis response pilot, additional staff hours in children’s mental health, the addition child care coordination responsibilities within the County Licensor position, the reorganization of human services teams and addition of a Behavioral Health Supervisor.

Program and Service Updates

Public Health and Human Services staff led and supported program and service development in several key areas, alligned with our five-year Community Health Improvement Plan.

The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program is a three-year federaly funded grant partnership between the University of MN, Grand Portage, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and Cook County. Through this grant program, PHHS staff are increasing our work alongside these partners, local schools and other service providers to expand access to substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services.

In late 2022, PHHS hired a Coordinated Mental Health Crisis Response Worker to partner with Law Enforcement, Hospital and Tribal and County Human Services staff in responding to and preventing mental health crisis during daytime hours. This has been a gap following the closure of the Human Development Center in Cook County. This is a two-year pilot funded through the Federal American Rescue Plan and regional mental health crisis grants.

Throughout 2022, staff participated in the Rural Childcare Innovation Program local community engagement work. In August the Public Health and Human Services Board approved one-time funding to support a local child care wage enhancement program to support current childcare providers and expand access to childcare throughout the county. A reconfigured Licensor / Childcare Coordinator position within the PHHS department increases our capacity to support the childcare system in Cook County through by seeking out funding, establishing a substitute provider pool and providing shared support services to providers.

Launched in 2022, the Healthy Housing program connects trained public health staff with homeowners, renters and landlords through evidence-based healthy housing assessments to identify housing-based health threats. This grant-funded program provides education and resources to help correct the identified hazards.

Community Engagement

The PHHS Advisory Council and Cook County Local Mental Health Advisory Council were active in making policy, service and funding recommendations, conducting outreach, and fostering connections across local health and human services organizations in 2022. Both advisory councils welcomed new members last year through continued outreach and recruitment of community members and service providers.

PHHS staff supported the creation of two new community taskforces in 2022. The Healthy Housing Network was established to engage multiple perspectives and advise the department as we build capacity to address the link between health and housing in Cook County. This group meets monthly on the first Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Cook County Community Center with a virtual meeting option. The Childcare Solutions subcommittee of the PHHS Advisory Council meets monthly to help keep members of the public informed and explore avenues for ongoing support of childcare providers as well as families with young children in care. This hybrid group meets monthly on the second Wednesday from 2:30-4 p.m.

Members of the PHHS Advisory Council served on a subcommittee to provide funding recommendations for community non-profits who applied for the public health fund. Eight local nonprofits applied in 2022 requesting a combined total of $242,436 in funding. The volunteer grant review subcommittee met to review and score the requests with a recommendation to fund $191,000 to organizations working to advance the goals of the 2017-2022 Cook County community health improvement plan.

To get involved in a citizen advisory council, visit the Cook County website meeting portal at: You can also call our office at 218-387-3620 or email us at [email protected]


Learn more about the PHHS department at the January 17 PHHS Board Meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Cook County Commissioners Room. The meeting is available to live stream on the Cook County website at You can also visit our website at, contact us via email at [email protected]  to learn more about our work in supporting the health, safety and well-being of Cook County. For the latest information on COVID-19 in Cook County, visit the comprehensive COVID-19 response hub site at

By: Alison McIntyre, Cook County Public Health and Human Services Director

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service

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About Cook County Minnesota

Cook Country Minnesota   Lake Superior News    

Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west.  The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake,  Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles

Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Cook County include:
 Grand Marais     Lutsen Mountains
 Gunflint Trail      Superior Hiking Trail
 Grand Portage 

Snow Depth Minnesota
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The views expressed in this opinion article or photos are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Lake Superior News / Lake Superior Media.


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