Let’s hold up right here. This is not new news. For those of you who have been following this blog for a few years will remember (or not) an interview I did with Brian Zidek ,the candidate for county council, on November 5, 2017.
Here he was talking about a County Health Department way back then…
Zidek asked for an interview and I gave him one on the condition that he come to Chester to be interviewed. He did. Much of his platform mirrors the democratic position in this post and today’s article on Delcotimes.com.
However, I was curious to get more information from him on why a county health department was so important to him since I never read any details anywhere else. It went something like this.
Zidek: We are the largest county in Pennsylvania that does not have a health department. That’s troubling. It’s made more troubling in the face of some of the health crisis’s that we face in Delaware County. If we were living in an environment that was pristine with not a lot of complex health issues, perhaps a health department is not as vitally needed. But in an environment like ours where there are so many health issues ranging from air quality that’s so much worse in Delco than in other parts of PA, incidences of HIV being so much higher, teen pregnancy, opioid crisis taking four lives a week in Delco, it seems to me that a health department is absolutely called for.
Me: What’s a health department do for us?
Zidek: A health department can do a number of things. It can help monitor drinking water quality which is troubling in light of a pipeline going through that is leaking chemicals into streams and wells.
Me: Isn’t that the role of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP)?
Zidek: Yes and no. They issue permits but don’t have the manpower to do water quality testing on a local level as a local health department would. Health departments often coordinate with the EPA. I’ve met with an EPA official who say that meet with folks from Chester County, Montgomery County, Bucks County and Philadelphia County to talk about things like water and air quality and they just don’t meet with anyone from Delaware County because there isn’t anyone to meet with.
Also, health departments typically handle inspections of restaurants for health related issues.
Me: I know Chester has a crew that goes around and inspects restaurants. Doesn’t every town have such a thing?
Zidek: I don’t know if they do or not. We may find cases where they have filled in the gaps by other means of what a health department normally does from town to town.
Health departments help with prenatal and maternal care through home visits. They provide immunizations. They document and register recovery houses making sure they meet standards. We don’t have any that are certified by the state because we don’t have a health department to do so.
Health departments enable counties and their municipalities to qualify for state and federal grants. In the absence of having one we don’t qualify for those things.
Those are some of the things that are missing here in Delco . We are a less healthy community because of it.
Me: Where does the $11 millions price tag come from to build a health department?
Zidek: I’ve looked at Montgomery County to figure how to approximate this effort. I know the Montgomery County Health department has a $10 million budget for their health department. They get the vast majority of their funding from federal and state grants – $5.8 million. They get another $2.5 million-ish from the fees they charge restaurants for inspections. The tax payer is left with about 25% of the total cost to run their health department. In other words, they pay 25 cents for a dollar worth of service.
7 replies on “I bet we’re going to get a Health Department now”
Is the building on Fifth and Penn Streets in Chester, PA considered a health department?
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s the new district court house. They moved out of the police station to 5th and Penn.
That use to be the Health Department back in the 70’s and 80’, the it became the weak fare office u til it closed down due to deterioration
I think anonymous means welfare office
Chester had a whole Health Department when the Republicans were in office.. Check it out…
Not just a name…. Director and Employees
Why don’t you check it out and get back to us with some details?
Back where I came from (the Niagara frontier) the Health Department came in pretty useful. They set up well-baby clinics and mass immunizations at the fire hall, and gave the kindergartners their first dental exams (the big chair with the “ears” was set up in the nurses’ office). Free dental checkups and fluoride treatment were also available at the health department building (set up in a historic Roycroft building, which is how that building survived). My parents didn’t make much, so that was how we got medical care.