The Yakima Health District Board of Health said goodbye to outgoing board members on Wednesday, and will welcome new members in January.

Yakima County commissioners appointed Lupita Carillo and Edith Dibble, and reappointed Yakima Council member Patricia Byers to serve on the board during a Nov. 8 meeting. 

Carillo is a member of the Tieton City Council. Commissioners interviewed Carillo, Byers and Yakima Mayor Janice Deccio for the two elected official openings.

Dibble is a chief operating officer at Comprehensive Healthcare and will serve as a citizen representative as someone who is focused on health care. The Board of Health interviewed the citizen representative candidates and forwarded recommendations to commissioners.

Carillo and Dibble will replace outgoing members Naila Prieto-Duval, a Toppenish Council member, and Dr. Sean Cleary.

Since Kyle Curtis will be taking Ron Anderson’s position as District 2 Yakima County commissioner, he also will join the Board of Health. With Anderson departing, members will vote on a new board chair during their January meeting. Anderson served on the board of health for eight years.

Andre Fresco, executive director of the health district, thanked the three outgoing board members for their time and dedication to the board’s mission.

“I think many people who aspire to governmental service don’t recognize the investment of time and effort and value that people place in this work. I want to thank not only those of our members who are departing but also our current members and future members of this board that we take seriously your service,” Fresco said.

During the meeting, Fresco also gave a presentation on the history of the Yakima Health District. He highlighted the district’s early years as a pioneer in the field of public health and its history as the first health district in the nation.

He also drew attention to how the district was involved in handling public health emergencies like a typhoid fever breakout in the early 20th century all the way through to meth lab cleanups in the '90s and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Latest on flu and RSV

The board also heard updates on current health trends.

Melissa Sixberry, director of disease control, said positivity rates for RSV and the flu continue to rise in Yakima and across the country.

According to the latest reports from Astria hospitals and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, RSV positivity rates rose from 25.5% during the week of Nov. 13 to 31.5% during the week of Nov. 20. Flu positivity rates rose from 13.2% to 27.6% during the same time frame. 

It was the first Board of Health meeting in person since the pandemic started.

The next board of health meeting will be Jan. 25. Meetings will continue to be streamed live on the health district’s Facebook page but residents are free to attend in person. Meetings start at 8:30 a.m. and take place inside the health district building at 1210 Ahtanum Ridge Drive, in Union Gap.

Santiago Ochoa's reporting for the Yakima Herald-Republic is possible with support from Report for America and community members through the Yakima Valley Community Fund. For information on republishing, email news@yakimaherald.com.

RFA/Health Care Access Reporter

Santiago Ochoa is a bilingual journalist covering health care access at the Yakima Herald-Republic in Yakima, Washington. Before joining the Herald, Ochoa reported for Flint Beat in Flint, Michigan, covering the city’s Latino population—health care, education, community building and more, and winning top honors in the Michigan Press Association’s feature category. He served as photographer and later editor for his college newspaper, The Michigan Times. When he’s not working, Ochoa enjoys cross-country trips on his motorcycle, going to the movies, reading and skiing. 

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