Regional Public Health in the Local News
Over the last two weeks, the Express Times has provided some great coverage regarding the Lehigh Valley Health Department. In case you missed these two articles, I wanted to highlight brief excerpts from each, as they provide good background on the current debate regarding the health department.
In an April 20th article, Tony Rhodin outlined some of the arguments that proponents of a regional health department have made:
Just 28 percent of residents in Lehigh and Northampton counties have access to comprehensive public services, [Chair of the Lehigh Valley Board of Health] Lyon said, leading to a “tremendous disparity” of access. The goal of the proposed department would be “to eliminate that disparity,” Lyon said, while services currently offered to Bethlehem and Allentown residents through city departments would not drop off.
By having a bi-county department, the proponents said, the ability to get state grants would be far greater — they estimated having access to as much as $3.7 million more than the $1 million Bethlehem and Allentown each get.
Over the weekend, the editorial staff published their opinion, urging elected officials to give this matter a fair shot. They write:
Taxpayers and county officials must give this issue a fair hearing…[P]ublic health is one service — given the growth of the Lehigh Valley, its central location in the Northeast, its less-than-stellar numbers in some categories (morbidity, low birthweight) — in which a two-county approach can improve the lives of 600,000-plus residents. It’s time to put the numbers to the ideas, to have a good public discussion, and to keep open minds about how to shape the future of public health in the Valley. This day has been decades in the making.
What are your thoughts on the regional health department? Do you agree that it deserves a fair hearing?