The Libby City Council appointed a new city representative to the City-County Board of Health during their regular meeting Monday.
Laura Crismore, the Quality and Risk manager at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, was chosen from among a field of four applicants for the position.
Of the four, three currently work in the medical field in Libby. The fourth, local resident and former council member DC Orr, is an active attendee of many city and county meetings, including those of the health board.
Crismore has a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a master’s in health administration, according to the resume she presented to the council. She has worked at Cabinet Peaks since 2005, and been Quality and Risk manager since 2016.
“I do a lot of work with public health as it is now, and I just want to extend my knowledge,” she told the council. “I know there’s more to public health than medical, which is my strong suit.”
Crismore said that she is a “big picture” person, and that she wants to find ways to help out.
In response to a question from council member Hugh Taylor, Crismore said that her strength is in being analytical.
“I like to solve problems. I like to see, as I said before, the big picture. I like to hear from all key stakeholders,” she said.
Crismore said that when trying to improve a process, people often come with solutions already in mind.
“I think it’s very important that you back up, you hear everybody’s part in the process, you work through the issues, and you come up with a solution,” she said.
Crismore said that processes should be separated from the people when making decisions.
A mother of four, Crismore told council member Peggy Williams that she only has one child still at home, and that she has evenings free to attend meetings as required for the city’s representative to the health board.
In response to council member Gary Beach, Crismore said that mental health and transportation remain serious problems locally.
“Even if we were to solve our mental health crisis, we still would have to solve the transportation need,” she said. “It goes hand-in-hand.”
The unique population, generational poverty and remoteness of the community create a convoluted set of problems, she said.
Still, mental health and transportation would be good places to start in addressing that set of problems, she said.
Part of the transportation problem as it ties into mental health is that there is no ready solution for transporting mental health patients to the places where they can be treated outside of the county, Crismore said.
While the Libby Volunteer Ambulance cannot transport the mental health patients since those patients do not qualify for that level of transport, Crismore said that the lack of volunteerism in the community is another problem that needs a solution.
Mayor Brent Teske asked Crismore — who is also part of the county’s mental health coalition — if she had ideas for ways to deal with the problems she spoke about.
Crismore responded that the coalition applied for a Montana mental health grant for 2017 through 2018 that brought all of the existing resources together. Through that experience, she identified that the local ministerial association is an underused resource.
“I think, with our remoteness, we really need to think outside of the box,” she said.
In addition to Crismore and Orr, the council also heard from Lexie McFarland, a registered nurse who has worked at Cabinet Peaks since 2016 and prior to that as an instructor at Flathead Valley Community College and as a nurse at Libby Care Center.
They also interviewed Tony Fantozzi, a physician assistant at the Northwest Community Health Center since 2017. He previously worked at Cabinet Peaks, as well as at MedNorth Urgent Care and Northwest Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, both in Kalispell.
The council expressed general agreement without dissent that they were impressed by the candidates for the position.
“I want you to know how hard that was,” council member Peggy Williams told the candidates after the final round of nominations and vote that selected Crismore.
“All excellent applications,” Teske said.