Saturday, February 26, 2011

Does Mother Know Best About Bi-County Health?

Marge Peterson has a great story about Lehigh County Comm'r candidate Norma Cusick, a Republican, at Salisbury Patch. It takes real guts for a Republican to claim she supports a bi-county health department, especially right before a primary. Although I would never vote for or against a candidate based on a single issue, and actually oppose bi-county health as formulated, Norma's honesty would get my vote.

Interestingly, her son John, the President of Northampton County Council, has steadfastly voted against all bi-county health proposals so far.

Will she send John to his room?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said:

"It takes real guts for a Republican to claim she supports a bi-county health department, especially right before a primary. Although I would never vote for or against a candidate based on a single issue, and actually oppose bi-county health as formulated, Norma's honesty would get my vote."

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Sorry Bernie, but honesty isn't any better than stupidity in my book. And Norma Cusick thinking that we have the money for this boondoggle is just plain stupid.

Anonymous said...

Norma means well but the only ones really pushing this pipe dream are the health care bureaucrats. Erie County's Health Department has done squat in reducing illness and health risks in that community so why should we be different? Other than insprecting restaurants there is little else they have been able to get the public to buy into. We have two of the best hospital health networks in the state and our mortality rate is better than most. Renew LV and others just haven't made a strong enough case to counter the concerns about sustainability of a new bureaucracy.

Anonymous said...

If Norma REALLY knew her county, she would realized that there are many private and public entities out there that already do what they want this health bureau to do and put the money to better use like paying the bills and lowering the 16% tax increase that the county is being hit with.

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Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to attack other readers, identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

Was that an attack? Sorry if I hurt feelings. Just get tired of hearing from people who know nothing about public health spout off about the impact, or lack of impact of the Erie Health Dept as "proof" why we don't need more public health efforts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

OK. Why not answer what is going on in Erie? I would like to know why that department has failed to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

How do you know that the Erie Health Department has failed to make a difference?

If health did decline (which the county health data used in Anon's argument don't necessarily prove), why? Influx of new poor people? Environmental health issues? Aging population? Closing of primary care sites? What would have those numbers looked like if there wasn't a health department?

I'm not defending the Erie Health Dept. I am, however trying to defend the benefit of public health.

I also understand the financial commitment. If the elected officials decide we cannot afford a regional health department at this time, I can accept that.

I cannot accept a health dept being shot down because of pettiness between the two counties, or based on an unproven argument that Erie was a failure.

Before you say it- yes the board of health needs to make a more compelling argument for the benefit of a regional health department. We agree on that point.

Anonymous said...

1:48-The point being made is the board keeps saying that county run health departments are much better than state run, yet there is more proof (Erie, Alleghany, Philadelphia) that they are not. The board kept saying that county run health departments will create jobs, yet city, county and state health departments are losing money and must either layoff staff or end certain services. The board to this day has presented NO facts or statistics to show that county run is better than state run. And the reason is that some of those stats either do not exist or put county/city health departments in a bad light. The argument by many is not against public health, but against poorly run health departments that may end up being more of a burden than a help.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:19- Thanks for your thoughts. I have a problem with the logic that the "state" is providing us with better public health than a locally run, locally controlled health department. That just isn't true. Do you believe that Philly, Erie and Allegheny would be healthier without a health dept?

Here's what we know...public health works, public health provides a real return on investment. The research is out there.

Again, if it's a matter of finances, I understand. Call it that and let's figure out how to do it when the economy is better. But please let's stop sayng that public health doesn't work or isn't worth it.

I agree the Board needs to make a more compelling argument.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm not defending the Erie Health Dept. I am, however trying to defend the benefit of public health."

I see your point, but I think you really need to address Erie's failure.

Here's another point, and this was made by Dean Browning during the presentations. Public health claims it is effective in dealing with childhood obesity. What data exists in Allentown or Bethlehem, which have health departments, to back up that assertion? Put another way, are Bethlehemites and Allentonians more healthy bc of the existence of public health departments, and what is the quantifiable evidence to support that assertion?

This is the kind of thing that county legislators are looking for. They also want the health board to contact hospitals.

I covered a health board meeting a few weeks ago. They are bright and well-meaning people, but probably need translators for the politicians, bc they do not understand the objections. They've made no effort to contact hospitals. They've made no attempt to show how public health in Allentown and Bethlehem make those communities more healthy than the rest of the LV.

I wish them the best of luck, but they need to change their approach, and scale back their expectations for the first several years. It's a worthwhile idea, but needs to be better presented and vetted.

Anonymous said...

"I need to address Erie's Failure?"

1) What makes you think Erie is a failure? You're going to have to do better than quoting one small component of the County Health Rankings.

2) If I show you a case where a health department has improved the health of a community, does that become a legit reason to fund a health dept?

I agree with your point about the board.

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