Lancaster Physician Fall 2020 - 31

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for another wave of COVID-19, the next
pandemic, or any other health crisis we may
face in the future.
Schools, business leaders, health care
officials, and local citizens are asking for the
county to take control over our health options
from the state and put it in the hands of local
government, which 10 other municipalities in
Pennsylvania already have done. We believe
strongly that now is the time for a public
health department in Lancaster County.
We also believe we can deliver that more
efficiently than has ever been done before
by designing a modern, flexible model for
our public health authority.
THIS IS WHAT WE CAN
ACCOMPLISH WITH A LOCAL
PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT:
-Make county level responses to health
threats and bring many of decisions for
closures and openings to our local
government, rather than the state.
-Be a trusted source of information for the
general public, for schools, businesses,
and government.
-Gain access to our health data and use
that data to inform decisions for the good
of the county's population.
- Give clear, concise, and transparent
messages to the public.
-Be the authority to act during a crisis or
threat with skills, expertise, and planning.
It should not be a surprise that when patients
began testing positive for the coronavirus in
Lancaster County in mid-March, leaders
here were hampered in their planning efforts
because they could not access information
about our own population health. Emergency

medical services, police, and fire fighters could
not plan or react in a timely way without
public health guidance that was local. They
had to depend on the state Department of
Health for information about our own county
situation. And that information was often no
longer useful by the time local leaders received
it. Over the years, the absence of a public
health department has hindered tracking of
children poisoned by lead, stood in the way of
identifying best treatment options for opioid
addiction, and made it difficult to ensure
herd immunity by vaccination. The ongoing
pandemic has brought those deficiencies into
clear focus.
The 10 counties and municipalities with
their own public health department in
Pennsylvania had a clear advantage during
the COVID-19 crisis.
* Neighboring Chester County began its
contact tracing of its COVID-19 cases
in March, as did Allegheny County and
others, because both have their own health
departments. There was no county-wide
effort to conduct contract tracing in
Lancaster County until May.
* By March, Montgomery County, where
the majority of the state's first cases
emerged, used its county public health
staff to pinpoint all the infections.
They even released a map showing
where the infected people lived. By
identifying hotspots early, they were
able to determine where to position
testing and care resources.
* In early March, the Lehigh County Health
Network had established a hotline for
residents for testing and tracing through
their own health department. This service
relieved anxiety in the community and
provided accurate, effective actions that
people could use.

* By April, York City, with its own health
department, was more than six weeks
ahead of Lancaster in its contact tracing
and in the position to "open" earlier than
Lancaster, likely as a direct result of their
organized public health resources.
* The state had a plan to protect nursing
home residents in a contagion, but it
was never fully implemented in Lancaster County, largely because the plan
required public health professionals to
put it into place.
* Philadelphia was able to trace airplane
manifests from the federal government in
January, showing which residents had been
to China during the outbreak. Because
they have their own health department,
they were able to identify their initial
infections before the state announced
its first case.
* Lancaster County will soon be the largest
county in Pennsylvania without a health
department (and one of the larger ones in
the U.S.). Delaware and York Counties
are both exploring the development of a
public health department.
We need a public health department in
Lancaster County, now more than ever. After
discussions with business and community
leaders, we propose one that is focused on data
and health strategy, not on providing clinical
services that are already available in the county.
We believe that type of health department will
clearly meet the needs of Lancaster County
in the most efficient way both now and into
the future. We need to hear everyone's voices
on this issue, now more than ever, so that we
can put the health of our community where
it should be-at the top of our priorities.

THE PARTNERSHIP FOR PUBLIC HEALTH IS DEDICATED TO THE HEALTH OF ALL POPULATIONS IN
LANCASTER COUNTY. OUR FOCUS IS ON MAJOR ISSUES AFFECTING THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
OF OUR CITIZENS INCLUDING OPIOID ADDICTION, LEAD POISONING IN CHILDREN, IMMUNIZATIONS,
COMMUNICABLE DISEASES, CLEAN AIR AND WATER AND ALL ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
ISSUES. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT PARTNERSHIPFORPUBLICHEALTH.ORG.

LANCASTER

31

PHYSICIAN


http://www.PARTNERSHIPFORPUBLICHEALTH.ORG

Lancaster Physician Fall 2020

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPSummer19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPSpring2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPWinter2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPFall2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPSummer2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPSpring18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPWinter18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/Summer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/Lancaster_Physician/LPSpring17
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