State health commissioner talks with local officialsSporting coral-colored knickers tucked into knee-high socks and a matching bow tie around his neck, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger came to Cannon Falls Tuesday ready to play at the park — well, sort of.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Sporting coral-colored knickers tucked into knee-high socks and a matching bow tie around his neck, Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger came to Cannon Falls Tuesday ready to play at the park — well, sort of.
He visited the area as part of a “Pitch the Commissioner” event in which he invited local officials to spend time with him discussing important issues while engaging in a friendly game of horseshoes.
“I thought it’d be a good thing to do a little physical activity while we talk about public health,” Ehlinger said.
Prior to the event in Lower Hannah’s Bend Park, Ehlinger stopped by the Goodhue County Health and Human Services Board meeting at Cannon Falls City Hall. He gave board members the opportunity to introduce some of their concerns prior to meeting up with them in the horseshoe pits, and also shared some concerns of his own.
“We’re going in the wrong direction in this state in a variety of ways,” Ehlinger told the HHS Board, explaining that Minnesota’s health ranking is decreasing. “We need to put a lot more into prevention.”
HHS Board members’ concerns about public health varied widely, ranging from nursing homes to dental care to insurance companies denying coverage.
County Commissioner Ron Allen was upset with the number of services that the state mandates but doesn’t pay for.
“If you’re going to do something, make sure you’re funding it,” Allen said to Ehlinger.
Board member Mary Lindahl said she was most concerned with the use of helmets — or lack thereof — by motorcyclists, pointing out that she’d like to see the safety gear required.
“Even kids on bicycles I really would like to see more emphasis,” she added.
Ehlinger agreed that there have been far too many head injuries in the state that could have been prevented or made less severe with the use of a helmet.
“We just need to keep having that message out there and eventually the policy makers will decide where we need to go with that,” the commissioner said.
Ehlinger has been the Minnesota commissioner of health since January 2011 when he was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
Goodhue County was his fifth “Pitch the Commissioner” stop this year. He plans to visit Stearns County in October.