Lancaster city council backs push for county health department

“A county health department would have more access not just to do actual health implementation but to do one of the chief jobs of public health which is communication and awareness.”

  • Julia Agos

(Lancaster) – The Lancaster city council is throwing its support behind an effort to establish a county health department.

Members are expected to pass a resolution next week backing the idea.

Council President Ismail Smith-Wade El says the department would help coordinate a response to future pandemics, as well as issues with water, food or lead.

“A county health department would have more access not just to do actual health implementation but to do one of the chief jobs of public health which is communication and awareness,” he said.

The decision will ultimately be up to the Lancaster County Commissioners, who have voiced some hesitancy on the idea due to the potential price tag.

“Obviously as a conservative, I’m skeptical about creating another large government program when the state already has a health department,” Commissioner Josh Parsons told LNP.

But, Smith-Wade El compares it too an investment that could cut down on public health costs in the future.

“Whatever it is, you are going to pay for it. You are either going to pay now, or you are going to pay later. But you will pay for it,” he said.

A recent poll from Franklin & Marshal College of more than 2,000 people who live in the county showed more than 90 percent supported a county public health department in some fashion.

The Berks County Commissioners are also considering a similar plan.

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