Delaware County Council vice-chair Monica Taylor said they have a meeting scheduled with the state to start mapping out the establishment of a county health department.
“Just to talk to them about what the timeline is and what’s involved,” she specified, “and what are the requirements on their end because we have to be approved by them.”
Taylor said there are agencies in the county already providing quality services, and they’re not trying to replace those agencies. “The health department's job is more about partnering with those individuals and those groups and seeing where we’re lacking and trying to fill the gap and then also helping to better coordinate the services,” she continued.
Taylor and County Council chair Brian Zidek both said, as far as costs, the county is already leaving money on the table as they can’t apply for several state or federal grants because there’s no health department.
Zidek pointed to Norwood, where there’s growing concern over the possibility of a cancer cluster. “There is no entity within Delaware County that is adequately staffed to work with the Department of Environmental Protection to better understand what is going on,” he said. He also stated there are inefficiences, as issues best handled by a county health department instead fall to municipalities, such as restaurant inspection.
Both Zidek and Taylor said a county health department would be better at compiling statistics to spot trends like illness or the opioid crisis, and they say the department would improve communications with residents and state and federal agencies.
According to Taylor, it would likely take at least two years to set up a health department. She hopes there will be a lot of public input as the process continues.