As many of you know, the Lehigh Valley Board of Health is in the process of drafting a staffing and services plan for a bi-county health department that will provide high-quality public health services to the residents of the entire Lehigh Valley. Currently, Allentown and Bethlehem have separate health bureaus that provide services to their respective cities. Some of these services include communicable disease screening, tobacco prevention programs, nutrition and physical activity education, and – a topic that is taking the national spotlight lately – childhood and adult immunizations.
The discussion over the upcoming flu season has many people worrying about how the swine flu will affect the availability of vaccines. Related to this matter, State Representative Bryan Cutler of Southern Lancaster County reported from his Twitter account today about a hearing in Harrisburg on the swine flu. Rep. Cutler stated in his brief messages that Pennsylvania experienced some fatalities due to the flu already this year, and that the state was planning to increase community education efforts and ramp up surveillance measures, in addition to providing vaccinations. But who will receive the funding for these efforts? Counties that have local health departments.
It has been mentioned often that the creation of a bi-county health department would give the Lehigh Valley access to additional resources, such as $3 million per year in state health funding. Add to this the money that could be coming from the state in its effort to provide the flu vaccine to the public, and the reasons continue to add up.
Visit the RenewLV Health Initiative website to learn more about the effort to establish a Lehigh Valley Health Deparment.