MEDIA – As the Delaware County Health Department nears its state-approved grand opening, department heads have come forward and presented their vision for building healthy and thriving communities.
Delaware County Board Chairperson Dr. Monica Taylor explained that the process of creating the county health department began in 2020 before the onset of COVID-19 as a way to improve health equity. health, safety and quality of life for the county’s 576,000 residents.
“Just over two years later and in the midst of a pandemic, we have this incredible team on board ready to begin work to provide our residents with the resources they need to live healthy, safe and meaningful lives” , she said. “If we’ve learned anything over the past two years, it’s that there is nothing more important than our health.”
During the introduction, the audience met Melissa Lyon, director of the Delaware County Health Department; Stephanie Reese, administrator of the Office of Personal Health; Marie Carbonara, Administrator of the Office of Environmental Health; and Rosemarie Halt, Chair of the Board of Health, Acting Administrator of the Office of Population Health/Covid-19.
The department has increased its staff and has over 60 employees and a budget of $10 million. It has a wellness center in Yeadon and administrative offices in the Baldwin Towers in Eddystone, but it is awaiting final Bill 315 approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Health before it can offer services. County officials said they expect to receive that approval “very soon.”
“Public health is actually three Ps,” Lyon said. “We are about prevention, protection and promotion. Our job is actually to prevent injury, illness, disease and premature death. It’s our job.
And this prevention comes through protection and promotion, she explained.
Its mission is to “promote, protect, and ensure optimal health conditions for all residents of Delaware County through leadership, prevention, response, and community partnership.” Its values are fairness, collaboration, leadership, responsibility, innovation and stewardship.
The Delaware County Health Department is built around a Public Health 3.0 model. Lyon explained that the 1.0 model focused on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene; the 2.0 model focusing on infectious diseases; vaccine-preventable diseases and how to stop their spread; and 3.0 as diving into more chronic and complex conditions, including diseases of despair such as equitable access to a prosperous life.
Lyon added that there will be basic public services as needed, such as control of communicable and sexually transmitted diseases; stopping the spread of disease; maternal/child health; circumvent food-borne illnesses; and establishment inspection standards.
“Everything we do is about protecting people,” Lyon said.
Carbonara, who heads the Environmental Health Division, has 20 years of experience as a registered nurse and served as Radnor Township Health Officer.
She explained that the main services covered by Environmental Health are routine and complaint-based inspections of restaurants, bars, temporary food events, public swimming pools, with health inspections for daycares, schools and nursing homes. nursing and education. There will also be inspections of new and defective wells and septic tanks.
“We will investigate public health complaints and major environmental health risks down the line and with that we will also provide guidance and resources where possible,” she said.
Reese, who has a background in pediatric and psychiatric nursing and operations management, leads the personal health division.
She explained that her division is responsible for promoting healthy behaviors, preventing chronic disease and the spread of infectious disease while ensuring accessibility to quality health care for all county residents.
Services to be offered this year include TB care and treatment; screening, treatment and investigation of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia to any resident of the county; HIV prevention; rabies disease and bite investigations; vaccinations for children under 18 for underinsured or uninsured persons at no cost to the parent; and a school nurse liaising between the department and the schools.
Reese said they are also working on development programs to address infant mortality in Delaware County.
For the population health division, Halt said they will continue to work with community partners, agencies and health care facilities.
“We will continue our COVID response as the health department develops,” she added.
Halt said a community needs assessment will also be done with the department’s epidemiologist and his team.
“Data is the foundation of public health,” she said. “It shapes how we respond to community issues and really helps us have targeted interventions that really have an impact.”
Another area of focus is health equity, Halt said, adding that they want to make sure Delaware County communities are reflected in the county’s health department and its responses to needs.