Governor Blagojevich announces $50,000 grant to new Warren County Health Department
First time ever Warren County residents will have health department
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today a $50,000 grant to the new Warren County Health Department that will help fund the start up costs for the agency created a few months ago to serve the health needs of more than 18,000 residents in the area.
“We’ve worked hard to make sure more people, especially children, have access to health care. That means access to coverage through programs like All Kids and FamilyCare, but it also means access to health services – and local health departments play a critical role in making sure people can get the care they need close to home. This grant will help the new Warren County Health Department meet the healthcare needs of thousands of local residents,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
On August 28, 2006 the Warren County Board voted to create a Warren County Board of Health that will oversee the new health department. The board must appoint a qualified medical health officer or public health administrator to act as the executive officer for the health department. The number of staff and type of facility are local decisions and are dependent on how the health department is organized, what types of programs are offered and what is required by specific grants.
Local health departments work cooperatively with other local and state governmental agencies, health care providers, academic institutions, businesses, the media and a variety of community-based, non-governmental agencies. They provide essential services such as protecting people from health hazards and health problems, giving people information they need to make healthy choices and engaging the community to identify and solve health problems. A key role of local health departments is to work proactively with governmental and non-governmental agencies to address health disparities, as well as to improve emergency preparedness.
“Local health departments are the foundation of the public health system,” said Dr. Eric Whitaker, the State’s public health director. “The residents of Warren County will now benefit from four core services including infectious disease, potable water, private sewage and food sanitation – that will bring formalized surveillance and prevention activities to the forefront. This also highlights the ability for Warren County to be in control and better prepared for bioterrorism, pandemic flu and other natural disasters. For the first time ever, the new Warren County Health Department will be the focal point and the coordinator for providing comprehensive health services in the county.”
Services and programs local health departments may choose to provide include:
- Vision/hearing testing (preschool and school-age children)
- Infectious disease surveillance, treatment and follow-up
- Issuing water well permits
- Consult and issue permits for private sewage systems
- Health awareness information
- Health screenings (blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and other chronic diseases)
- Tobacco use prevention
- Restaurant inspections
- Training for food service workers
- Foodborne illness investigations
- Screening/testing of water samples
- Well inspections and surveys
- Referrals to other agencies
- Breast cancer and cervical awareness
- HIV/AIDS awareness
- Vector control
- Emergency preparedness
The Warren County Board of Health has four options for providing public health services for its citizens.
- Develop a single county health department that will provide programs and services to address the public health needs of the citizens it serves. This is being done in most Illinois counties.
- Develop a bi- or multi-county health department by joining with one or more counties to provide programs and services that address the public health needs of all citizens within all of the counties served.
- Contract with an entity within the county, such as a hospital, to provide programs and services to address the public health needs of county residents.
- Contract with an existing local health department in a neighboring county to provide programs and services to address the public health needs of the county residents. Currently five counties contract with another health department for services.
“We’re looking forward to getting started. We’ve elected officers and have been interviewing for an administrator, but the Board of Health is still discussing contracting services with a neighboring health department and what services we’ll be able to provide to residents,” said William Underwood, Warren County Board of Health Chairman. “A Warren County Health Department has been a long time coming and I think taxpayers will see this as a good thing.”
In Illinois, 95 local health departments, covering 99 of the state's 102 counties, serve 99.5 percent of the population.