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Want to know what Health and Human Services does? Here’s an overview

Just what does the Nye County Health and Human Services department do for the residents of the county?

This was a question that Nye County Commissioner Frank Carbone felt deserved a little illumination, “So everybody is aware of what really goes on in that organization, because there are so many things we don’t get to see and the public doesn’t get to see.”

At his request, Nye County Health and Human Services Director Karyn Smith provided a presentation on the department’s many programs and services during the commission’s Jan. 17 meeting.

“Throughout Health and Human Services, staff assists with helping over 1,300 clients each month, either providing information and/or actual service,” Smith stated that afternoon, adding, “And this does not include the amount of telephone calls we receive on a daily basis.”

She began her presentation by giving an overview of the department itself, which includes a Pahrump office and a Tonopah office and 18 total employees, along with two volunteers.

“Nye County Health and Human Services’ mission is to help Nye County residents achieve and sustain self-sufficiency in order to reach their full potential and our vision is that our innovative programs, services and referrals will assist in providing the building blocks for Nye County residents to establish strong foundations and well-being, creating a better community,” Smith detailed.

One of the main focuses for Nye County HHS is indigence.

“Through our Health and Human Services fund, we provide medical indigence that covers inmate medical indigence, so that is medical prescription assistance to qualified inmates detained in the Nye County detention facility,” Smith stated. “We do an IAF (Indigent Accident Fund), which determines the indigence of a person who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident and provides the necessary certification for assistance to the state IAF board. We also do abandoned-body and indigent burials and cremations. We’ll pay for cremation if deemed indigent or, if after 30 days, no one has assumed responsibility and the mortuary has declared in writing that the deceased is abandoned, then we cover that cremation charge.”

The department funds various contracts as well, Smith noted.

One of these contracts helps fund deliveries of USDA commodities to remote areas of Nye County, such as Yamba Indian Reservation, Ione and Gabbs, six times per year. Another, the Youth Development Service contract, covers quarterly charges for services to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Nye County HHS, in partnership with the NyE Communities Coalition, helps fund the FASTT/MOST program as well, which provides a case manager, case worker and services to the inmates of the Nye County Detention Center in an effort to reduce recidivism.

Moving on, Smith shifted to the Community Service Block Grant, or CSBG. “Our CSBG has been awarded to our office for more than 27 years. It provides assistance for very-low to low-income populations. These programs can include food and transportation vouchers, hygiene kits, rent and utility assistance, home repairs, essential services and other services funded that grant year. For fiscal year 2023, we serviced 244 clients and gave out 504 gas vouchers,” Smith explained.

“Through this grant, we also contract with the Pahrump Senior Center and Nye County Senior Nutrition to help subsidize the Meals on Wheels Program,” she continued. “We contract with Community Chest Inc. to have a consultant facilitate two community outreach committee meetings in Pahrump and 10 community coalition meetings in Tonopah to implement benchmarks to end poverty in these regions. We also partner with NyE Communities Coalition to provide training service learning opportunities and a paid job experience to at least five-to-six youth who are at risk of having problems becoming employed.”

Under the Adult Employment Incentive Program, Nye County HHS staffs a case manager who assists qualifying residents with finding employment. This program works in conjunction with the NyECC to provide clients with job readiness, resume building and other employment training workshops and classes. “This past grant year, our case manager assisted over seven individuals in obtaining employment,” Smith added.

The Emergency Solutions Grant program is geared toward homeless prevention. “Through this grant, we are able to target those individuals who are unemployed or underemployed and are at risk of becoming homeless, by enhancing their skills and knowledge, while working closely with a case manager, by assisting with short-to mid-term assistance of their rent. We assist upward of eight individuals/families per grant year,” Smith detailed.

The department’s Rapid Rehousing Grant targets those who are already experiencing homelessness with the goal of bringing them out of that situation. Smith reported that her office has successfully housed four clients and continues to manage three of those four.

“There are also two current clients by which we are working to locate and secure permanent housing and we are continually working to bring on state-assigned referrals,” she stated. “And this process could take several months, in order to get them all set up to the point that we’re even able to start looking at putting them into permanent housing.”

The Ryan White Program, which started as a simple gas voucher program, is for clients with HIV/AIDS. Today, this program assists 40-plus clients with a variety of services, such as transportation to Las Vegas, gas vouchers, a weekly food pantry and monthly vouchers to assist with healthy groceries, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products.

Nye County HHS is an intake site for the state’s Energy Assistance Program, too, which supplements electric and/or propane bills for up to 12 months. The Tonopah office acts as an intake site for the Nevada Energy Safe Program, designed for those with income limitations or other unusual circumstances for one-time help paying a power bill.

The department’s public guardian office, which began in 2010 with just one client, now serves more than 25 protected persons, those who have been deemed by the courts to be incapacitated. “The public guardians’ office is responsible for all financial and medical decisions and this requires us to attend all care conferences and visit each of the clients monthly, along with attending court almost weekly,” Smith said.

The Community Health Nurse, who has clinics in both Pahrump and Tonopah, provides vaccinations for all sorts of diseases, family planning and counseling, birth control, STD testing and treatment and TB testing and treatment. “They service upward of 100 to 150 clients per month,” Smith stated, adding that clinics are held quarterly in Beatty and Amargosa.

Other programs offered by the department include a sexual assault program to assist with medical and/or psychological treatment for victims, the Senior Nutrition Program, which helps provide hundreds of meals to the senior centers in Beatty and Amargosa, and the Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC, a well-known program that serves mothers and children who are at nutritional risk.

“On average, both offices see up to 883 WIC participants per month,” Smith stated.

The department can lend a hand in filling out an assortment of assistance applications as well, including those for Social Security, the SNAP program and Medicaid. In partnership with the Community Crisis Intervention Committee, Nye County HHS participates in quarterly homeless wraparound events too.

To bolster community awareness of its services and those offered by its various partners, Nye County HHS holds annual social services fairs in both Tonopah and Pahrump, the last of which saw 50 vendors and over 315 attendees.

“It’s amazing to hear all the statistics,” Carbone stated as Smith wrapped up her presentation. “I just want to make sure that people understand that there is so much help out there.”

Nye County HHS is located at 1981 E. Calvada Blvd., Suite #120 in Pahrump and 101 Radar Road in Tonopah. For more information call the Pahrump office at 775-751-7095 or the Tonopah office at 775-482-8125.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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