Look for a health department to open in Delaware County by December 2021.
Delaware County Council started the ball rolling when it unanimously voted May 20 to hire Gorenflo Consulting Inc. to come up with a strategic plan. It takes about 18 to 24 months to create a public health department.
Still left to do?
- In July: a Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health study will evaluate Delaware County’s delivery of public health services.
- July/August: a Community Town Hall hosted by The Foundation for Delaware County and WHYY will discuss the results of the study.
- August: A Request for Proposals for an Economic Impact/Feasibility study will be made.
- December: The Gorenflo Consulting strategic plan should be finished.
- Winter/Spring 2021: Hire a director for the new health department
- Winter/Spring 2021: Create a Board of Health
- Summer/Fall 2021: Hire required personnel
- End of Year 2021: Open health department
Elected officials point to Delaware County’s reliance on the Chester County Health Department for its pandemic response to demonstrate why having its own county health department is a good idea.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted how vital it is for there to be coordinated, comprehensive public health programs and policies,” said Council Vice Chairman Dr. Monica Taylor.
Once Delaware County had its first case of COVID-19, an agreement was worked out with Chester County to provide coordination of increased testing, case investigation and surveillance, quarantine designations and public health guidance to Delaware County.
“Delaware County was not as healthy as other counties before the pandemic and our long-term care facilities didn’t have the advantage of additional guidance and support from a local health department, as other counties had. These are a few factors which may have resulted in Delaware County having a higher number of COVID-19 cases compared to our neighboring counties,” Taylor said.
Delaware County now ranks 47th among the state’s 67 counties for health outcomes, 33rd in length of life and 59th in quality of life, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study.
That’s in stark contrast to its neighbors. Chester County ranks 3rd in health outcomes. Montgomery County ranked 4th and Bucks County ranked 6th.
“We have made enormous progress in the few months since we officially began this process, and that is a testament to the hard work of those inside and outside of government who have helped us,” said Taylor. “In the coming months, we will continue to work to develop and launch this new department, which we believe will benefit every Delaware County resident.”
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