Status of consolidation of county and city health departments being discussed

By William K. Alcorn


Mahoning County’s health commissioner recently discussed the possible consolidation of the county and Youngstown city health departments with Youngstown Mayor-elect John McNally IV.

Patricia M. Sweeney reported to the county health board last week that she “brought the mayor-elect up to speed” on the issue via a 30-minute phone conversation.

Consolidation of the two public- health departments has been under discussion for a couple of years.

McNally said he would talk with Youngstown City Council about its feelings on taking consolidation of the two health departments to the next level in the process, Sweeney said.

As mayor, McNally will be chairman of the Youngstown City District Board of Health.

The mayor-elect asked for a copy of the feasibility study prepared by the Center for Community Solutions, which identified some of the major obstacles that would have to be addressed if a consolidation were to occur, Sweeney said.

Sweeney was scheduled to attend an upcoming meeting of the General Health District Advisory Council, the county health board’s governing body made up of representatives of the townships, villages and cities within the health district’s jurisdiction, and assess that body’s interest in moving forward with consolidation and becoming a combined health district.

“My board is interested in moving the discussion forward, but it is really up to the district advisory council which direction we take,” she said.

For herself, Sweeney said, “Consolidation is about more than economies of scale. ... It is about improving the health of the people who live here.

“Chronic disease and opiate use, for example, don’t start or stop at the county or city line. Consolidation makes sense. The departments can do more together than we can individually.”

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