Hired a month ago to be Manatee County’s new health care services manager, Joshua Barnett has kind of come in like a Category 4 hurricane, but he is one storm that his peers don’t seem to mind.
Barnett has brought new ideas to the Manatee County Health Advisory Board, which he has become very involved with since his hire, said Karen Windon, Manatee County Deputy Administrator.
“Josh has a great background for understanding how to get things done,” Windon said Wednesday. “You saw the new structures he recommended tonight. His philosophy is, ‘Let’s get moving!’ ”
With sub-groups there is a lot of energy behind coming up with solutions. These board members have spent time educating themselves and becoming aware of what is available and what the problems are and I think it is vital that we allow them the opportunity to now come up with some actionable solutions.
Joshua Barnett, Manatee County’s health care services manager
For the past three-and-a-half years, before coming to Manatee, Barnett served as a consultant to a settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Delaware, monitoring quality and treatment outcomes of various community-based supportive services within the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health under the Department of Health and Social Services.
An example of Barnett’s “let’s get moving” modus operandi occurred during Wednesday night’s regular October meeting of the board.
Barnett proposed that the 11 board members break down in four sub-groups, each attacking a piece of the community health puzzle.
The first sub-group would specifically come up with ideas to reduce the number of Manatee residents who don’t have health insurance, Barnett said.
The second sub-group would look at the health care board structure to determine if it is representative of the community it is charged to serve and advise.
The third sub-group would deconstruct the recent report presented to the county by the health consultant, Health Management Associates, and see what nuggets can be taken from it.
“There was a suggestion in the HMA report to collect information from medical providers in the community,” Barnett said. “Members of this sub-group would determine if this is feasible and necessary as written in the HMA report or is there a better way.”
The fourth sub-group would be charged with looking at the aspirations of the county toward health care, the challenges it faces to reach those aspirations and how they can mitigate those challenges, Barnett said.
Philip Brown, who was acting board chairman Wednesday in Stephen Hall’s absence, suggested that board members pick what sub-group they would like to be on as soon as possible.
“With sub-groups, there is a lot of energy behind coming up with solutions,” Barnett said after the meeting when asked why he proposed sub-groups. “These board members have spent time educating themselves and becoming aware of what is available and what the problems are and I think it is vital that we allow them the opportunity to now come up with some actionable solutions.”
Barnett also suggested Wednesday that Manatee residents who are experiencing or have experienced what it is like to live without health insurance should be part of the discussion as to how the county solves the puzzle of how to best finance and deliver essential health care for the county’s uninsured and under-insured, which is the board’s mission.
“This board would be remiss in not including them in the dialogue,” Barnett told the board.
Barnett said he would love it if more residents attend future meetings to share their stories and ideas, or at least write emails to him.
Only a few members of the public usually attend the meetings. Barnett can be reached at email@example.com.
The board next meets from 5-7 p.m. on Nov. 16 in the Manatee County Government Administrative Center, on the 9th floor conference room, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. The meeting was changed from Nov. 23 due to the proximity of Thanksgiving.
The board also changed the December meeting from Dec. 28 to Dec. 14. Information: 941-749-3030.