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Monday, September 10, 2007

Can LV Health Department Overcome Norco Council Chainsaw Massacre?

If there's any one group that gets the third degree from Northampton County Council, it's the Interim Health Board, established in 2005, to study the feasibility of a regional health department. On March 1, Dr. David Lyon, who chairs this group, tried to make a friendly presentation to council. But when he was done, he must have felt like he had just walked into a chainsaw.

Szzrum-rum-rum!.

Assurances that a regional board could be created without additional tax dollars, were completely dismissed. Claims that Bethlehem residents - who have their own health department - would not suffer, were also ignored.

Lamont McClure suggested that this was being foisted on local governments by hospitals tired of providing emergency room care to indigents. Szzrum. Ron Angle refused to believe it could be done without more county tax dollars. Szzrum-rum. John Cusick believes state services would be better than anything done regionally. Szzrum-rum-rum. Tony Branco complained it would not be fair to have a regional or county health department whose offices are located only in Bethlehem. Szzrum-rum-rum-rum. Ann McHale complained that Bethlehem residents, who already have a health board, would suffer.

Leatherface would be proud!

Although the devil's always in the details, there is much to be said for a regional Lehigh Valley health department, which would be the first of its kind in the state. RenewLV notes these advantages:

Access to a larger pool of state public-health funds;

Greater consistency in public health services across the region--without diminishing services in Allentown and Bethlehem, the two cities currently served by local health bureaus;

Improved regional readiness to response to a natural disaster, epidemic/pandemic or other health emergency;

Increased capacity to address health risks that cut across city and county jurisdictions;

More efficient use of public health dollars through economies of scale and reduced duplication of services; and

Increased ability to obtain major government grants for public health services.

The bi-county workgroup will be meeting publicly on Monday, September 17, 1:00 PM., Bechtel Building (basement conference room), 520 East Broad Street, Bethlehem.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Add time-shifting to Bernie's evil powers. Anon 9:30 Sunday

Bernie O'Hare said...

Damn, you got me! When I can, I publish the next day's post a little early. In other words, a Monday post will usually be published late Sunday night. But I've got two more in the works, so I'll probably be up late anyway.

A.J. Cordi said...

I just wanted to say congratulations on reaching an audience who never knew what a chainsaw sounded like. It’s great how you’re always thinking of others! I’m sure those who are deaf truly appreciate it, too!

Szzrum-rum-rum!.

(By the way, I always alter the times on my blog when posting close to midnight. No harm done...)

Anonymous said...

BO, Let us wait and see. The concept of a Regional Health Dept. is a good idea. The problem, if you consider it a problem, is the logistics particularly of cost. After years of study it has yet to be proven the Dept. would not cost new County dollars. To do Bethlehem county-wide at least 1.5 to 2 million a year per county. Now will that mean new taxes, you know that is a snake oil sales pitch. I can claim the resoan for a tax increase is something else.
The problem BO, is that some in this group have been so fanatical about this project they have not given any credence to the legitamite concerns as listed by many officials past and present. As a result there is a crediblity issue. It is true some of the greatest proponents are folks who may do business through a huge new Dept. Also the cost of co-ordinating existing county revenue streams to run through this Dept. to get the reinbursemnts. Ask those county fiscal folks , you trust them. Get them off the record. The Renew people are Regional Extremeists made up of L.V. one -worlders. There isn't a costly regional project they don't love.
I think County Council is asking good tough questions. As a taxpayer I prefer they ask the questions now than later. Given the rah-rah factor of these Health Dept. folks and their difficulty in the past with the facts, I applaud Council. You admonish me to give Stoffa a break, don't let your dislike of some councilmen cloud your judgement on a complicated and expensive project.

Anonymous said...

i believe angle's instincts are spot-on.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:17,

There's a difference between asking tough questions and making up uour mind before the facts are in. But you're right. They should aks their questions.

Renew LV is a bunch of extremists?

Is regionalism such a terribe concept? I understand the fear that it could be used to dilkute your vote, but there are areas where regionliam is the best approach. Public health and emergency preparedness are two such areas.

Anonymous said...

This is a classic example of a lingering problem in the Lehigh Valley -- small minds thinking small. Like corporate greedheads grasping for short-term profit over long-term financial success, Northampton County council is trying to micro-manage a regional issue so they can all brag that they saved the taxpayers 14 cents ... while costing them $114.

There are many services that are best provided on a regional basis, and healthcare on a regional basis is one of the most cost-effective options available to us. Not only that, but by creating a truly regional public health organization, the Lehigh Valley (and that includes Northampton County, in case these greedheads forget) can establish itself as one of the most forward-thing regions in the not-so-illustrious state of Disgruntlement, er, uh, Pennsylvania.

I don't begrudge the council members for keeping an eye on the tax dollars, but this is not a body that has demonstrated its public-mindedness in the past. It is, instead, the Northampton County answer to Allentown City Council -- a petty, small-minded, politically motivated group of individuals who have again and again demonstrated that the good of their constituents are far outweighed by their own desire for grandstanding for the sake of their own overinflated egos.

It's time for the Northampton County voters to wake up and drink from the same cup as the Allentown voters -- throw these self-absorbed bums back on the street. force them to earn an honest living, and elect more people like John Stoffa who represent the true Jeffersonian ideal of the citizen-legislator, who serve without regard for political consequences, and vote for what's right instead of politically expedient.

The Curmudgeon

Bernie O'Hare said...

Curmudgeon, I agree completely with you and you actually said it much better than I.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Shade. Mr. Stoffa could not have said it better.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Curmudgeon is not Mr. Shade. You should visit his blog sometime. You'd probably agree with most of what he has to say. I have a link on my left sidebar.