Local Health Department Standards
As many of you know, the Lehigh Valley Board of Health will be developing a staffing plan and operating budget over the next few months, one that will effectively address public health concerns in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Currently, the cities of Allentown and Bethlehem have fully-staffed public health bureaus, which provide high-quality services. Unfortunately, health risks cut across city boundaries and jurisdictions, and many parts of the Valley are not receiving the same quality of services. This reason is just one of many for why a regional health department is needed in the Lehigh Valley.
But some may wonder about the standards of a health department. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has provided a guideline for public health departments in their Operational Definition Brochure:
- Monitor Health Status and Understand Health Issues Facing the Community
- Protect People from Health Problems and Health Hazards
- Give People Information They Need to Make Healthy Choices
- Engage the Community to Identify and Solve Health Problems
- Develop Public Health Policies and Plans
- Enforce Public Health Laws and Regulations
- Help People Receive Health Services
- Maintain a Competent Public Health Workforce
- Evaluate and Improve Programs and Interventions
- Contribute To and Apply the Evidence Base of Public Health
The above standards are directly related to NACCHO’s Ten Essential Public Services, an outline of the needs that every community should address.
When the regional health department was in its early planning stages, representatives from NACCHO came out to the Lehigh Valley to explain the role of a public health department. Moreover, the presentation included estimates for cost-savings, as well as the specific benefits of a regional public health department. *Check out the NACCHO PowerPoint here.*
Once the Board of Health determines a a budget and staffing plan, it will need the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Health as well as the Lehigh Valley Health Commission, composed of county council members from both Lehigh and Northampton counties. I urge you to visit our Join Us page, and fill out the supporter form – making sure to check the “Health” box – to receive updates on the Lehigh Valley Public Health Department. Additionally, visit RenewLV’s Health Initiative page to read the Board of Health’s latest Meeting Minutes.