The Panhandle Health District provides residents access to health care, community services and initiatives, and environmental health programs to foster healthier and safer lives for residents.

What is the Panhandle Health District?

The Panhandle Health District is one of seven health districts in Idaho. The districts were established in 1970 to provide the residents of Idaho with formal local public health services.

Panhandle Health District services the following counties: Benewah, Kootenai, Bonner, Boundary, and Shoshone. A Board of Health establishes policies based on the community’s needs and ensures that these policies are upheld. County commissioners from each county appoint the individuals who sit on the board.

The Panhandle Health District offers over 40 public health programs to local communities, including individuals, families, and organizations. Central offices for each county are located in the following areas:

  • Kootenai County: Hayden
  • Bonner County: Sandpoint
  • Shoshone County: Kellogg
  • Boundary County: Bonners Ferry
  • Benewah County: St Maries

Services that the Panhandle Health District provides

Panhandle Health District offers various services grouped into three main categories: general services, community programs, and environmental health. The general services are mostly services provided for individuals (and sometimes to their families).

Community programs are dedicated to educating and supporting local communities. These programs focus on promoting safer and healthier communities.

Environmental health initiatives and efforts focus on providing residents with a safe environment, public spaces, water, and food.

General services.

Clinical Services.

Panhandle Health District clinics provide non-emergency medical services to community members. These services are offered to individuals whether they have insurance or not.

Nurse practitioners usually conduct the initial consultation, make diagnoses, and provide treatment. Then, if required, a nurse practitioner can refer patients to other health care providers or specialists.

Services could vary depending on the location and availability of a nurse practitioner. However, most clinics offer services relating to the following health concerns:

  • Family planning and birth control
  • Immunizations, including travel immunizations
  • STI testing and treatment
  • Women’s health services
  • Blood pressure management
  • Breast exams
  • Endometrial biopsies
  • Menopausal management
  • Pap smears and abnormal pap smear management
  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • PrEP
  • Cancer screening (including colorectal, cervical, skin, and breast cancer)
  • Cervical polyps
  • Colonoscopies
  • Dental health services
  • Diabetes prevention programs
  • Type 1, 2, and gestational diabetes management
  • Eye, ear, nose, and throat infections
  • Flu symptoms
  • Minor upper respiratory infections
  • Minor skin issues (like mole removal, biopsies, rashes, and warts)
  • Minor sprains and strains
  • School or sports physicals
  • Thyroid
  • Wellness exams

Cancer Screening.

The Panhandle Health District strives to alleviate the burden that cancer could potentially place on the residents of Northern Idaho. The district pursues efforts to raise awareness of prevention and early detection strategies through promoting access to early screening services.

The Panhandle Health District offers screenings for the following types of cancer:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Breast cancer

Dental Care.

The Panhandle Health District dental hygienists are based and school and community-based clinics. They offer dental services to eligible children and pregnant women. These services include screening, dental sealants, fluoride varnish, education, and referrals.

The Hayden office has a Dental Day every 3rd Wednesday of the month that caters to uninsured, Idaho Smiles, and Pregnancy Medicaid patients. These visits include an oral health assessment, teeth cleaning, fluoride varnish, and dental home referrals. Eligible individuals (including children between 0 and 17) can be seen by appointment on these days.

Diabetes Programs.

The Panhandle Health District offers two diabetes programs. The Hayden and Sandpoint offices offer Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP). The Hayden office also provides Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME).

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) offered by the Panhandle Health District is recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program focuses on lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes and is explicitly aimed at persons at risk for type 2 diabetes or who have pre-diabetes.

The Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs (DSME) cater to people who have type 1, 2, or gestational diabetes. The program educates these individuals on managing their condition and any conditions relating to their diabetes diagnosis.

Family Planning.

The Panhandle Health Districts want to make family planning services available to all residents in North Idaho. These services promote individuals in local communities to make informed reproductive health choices and receive quality clinical services, resources, referrals, and education.

The family planning services include:

  • Starting, managing, and concluding birth control.
  • Emergency contraceptive.
  • Preconception counseling.
  • Gynecological exams (breast exams included)
  • Pregnancy testing.
  • STD and HIV testing and counseling.
  • Reproductive health information, education, and counseling services related to pregnancy.

The clinics do not provide family planning services relating to abortions, fertility treatment, or any services not related to family planning.

Fit & Fall Proof™.

Fit & Fall Proof™ is an exercise program intended for older adults (65 years and older), but people of all ages can join. The program is free and designed to strengthen older individuals and thus prevent falls. Fit & Fall Proof™ classes are offered in the five northern counties: Kootenai, Boundary, Benewah, Bonner, and Shoshone.

Home Health Care.

The Panhandle Health District has been offering in-home care services through Panhandle Home Health for more than 50 years. This program provides medical services in the care recipient’s home to make the transition after hospitalization or being released from a facility easier and safer.

Panhandle Home Health services are available in Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, and Shoshone counties and include the following skilled nursing services:

  • Intravenous therapy.
  • Wound care and VAC wound therapy.
  • Catheter care.
  • Ostomy care.
  • Diabetic care.
  • Cardiac and pulmonary care.
  • Post-hospital assessments.
  • Patient and caregiver education.
  • Certified nurse assistants.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Occupational therapy.
  • Speech-language pathology.
  • Medical social work.

Nurse-Family Partnership.

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program teams first-time moms (and fathers and family members) with registered nurses. This free program is offered in Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai, Shoshone, and Benewah counties. The registered nurses conduct regular visits throughout the mother’s pregnancy up until the child turns two. They give the mom’s support, guidance, and encouragement along with education.

To be eligible, first-time moms should be less than 29 weeks pregnant with their first child, meet specific income requirements, and live in one of the five northern counties.

Parents As Teachers.

The Parents As Teachers (PAT) program supports and engages parents and caregivers to assist their children during their early development years.

The program is open to all parents with children prenatal up to five years old. It teaches parents about childhood development and how to improve their parenting practices. In addition, the PAT program provides information on the early detection of developmental delays and health issues. More than that, the Parents As Teachers program increases children’s school readiness and success and prevents child abuse and neglect.

Quitting Tobacco.

Panhandle Health District offers group classes for teens and telephone consult or mail programs for adults who wish to quit smoking, vaping, or using dip. The END program focused on teens. It not only helps young people quit smoking, but also teaches them social skills, stress management techniques, goal setting, and decision making. It also educates teens on nutrition and physical activity.

The 3-Call program gives adult participants access to nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges along with a quit-kit. The programs educate people on how to deal with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It also teaches them better stress management and guides them through the quitting process.


Community Programs.

Various initiatives are available to promote community health and welfare. These initiatives include:

  • Disease Reporting and Health.

Continuously collecting, recording, analyzing, interpreting, and disseminating information relating to the current health status of the local community.

  • Emergency Preparedness.

Panhandle Health District opened its Public Health Preparedness division in 2002 with the assistance of federal funds. The funds enabled the seven public health districts to build public health and hospital preparedness in local communities.

  • Idaho Physical Activity and Nutrition.

The Idaho Physical Activity and Nutrition program works to combat obesity in Northern Idaho.

  • Naloxone – Notscarytocarry.

The #Notscarytocarry campaign enables anyone to obtain Naloxone from a pharmacy. This medication could temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. In addition, the program provides support and education on opioid use and addiction and training on Naloxone.

  • PLAY.

Parents Leading Active Youth (PLAY) empower parents to become positive role models to encourage healthy habits in their children. This promotes mental and physical well-being.

  • Healthcare Provider Resources.

This is a collection of resources dedicated to helping healthcare providers serve the community better.

  • Senior Companions Program.

The Senior Companions Program pairs volunteers with elderly or disabled individuals. The volunteers provide companionship or respite care to the care recipients.

  • Substance Misuse Prevention.

This initiative focuses on the rise in opioid prescription and addiction. It provides resources and education on opioid use, overdose prevention, and addiction. The Substance Misuse Prevention initiative also runs the Strengthening Families Program. This program assists families in helping lower the risk factors for teen substance use.

  • Suicide Prevention.

Panhandle Health District collaborates with community partners to provide training, resources, and support for suicide prevention efforts.

  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention.

The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (APP) provides sexual health education to teens and their parents or caregivers in an effort to prevent teen pregnancies.

  • Telehealth Resources.


Environmental Health.

Panhandle Health District works with environmental health specialists to offer a variety of programs and initiatives that encourage environmental health. These include:

  • Child Care Resources.
  • Complaints.
  • Food Safety.
  • Institutional Controls Program.
  • Land Development.
  • Lead Health Information.
  • Pets, Mold, Ticks, and Bed Bugs.
  • Public Pools.
  • Septic Permits and Records.
  • Solid Waste.
  • Water Protection.

Panhandle Health District and the Coronavirus.

Panhandle Health District has put various initiatives in place as a result of the Covid 19 virus. This includes testing, treatment, and prevention programs along with supporting Covid 19 patients.

There are numerous Covid 19 testing stations throughout the Panhandle Health District to track and treat Covid 19 cases. Although all five counties have reported Covid infections, of the five counties, Kootenai county has the highest total number of Covid cases. The Panhandle Health Districts release CoronaVirus Statistics each day at or just before 5 pm, Monday through Friday, but has experienced a COVID backlog recently.

Panhandle Health District offers free COVID 19 vaccines to anyone 12 years old and older. Immunocompromised individuals may qualify for a third Covid 19 vaccine dose.

Although the Mask Mandate was rescinded by the Panhandle Health Board in March 2021, it is still recommended to wear a mask while in public. This should be done in conjunction with maintaining physical distance and frequent hand washing to curb the spread of the Covid 19 infection.

Panhandle Health District is dedicated to providing residents of North Idaho health, community, and environmental services, programs, and initiatives. These are offered to enhance the lives of individuals and the community as a whole.