City health board nixes merger with county health department
By William K. Alcorn
The Youngstown City Health District took potential consolidation and contracting for services with the Mahoning County health department off the table.
Board members were unanimous during an informal poll taken at Monday’s meeting that the city health department would stand alone and end nearly three years of discussions of consolidation and contracting for services.
The other part of the city board’s direction to Erin Bishop, acting commissioner, was to move forward with the accreditation process, which is a requirement of the Ohio Department of Health.
Patricia Sweeney, commissioner of the Mahoning County District Board of Health, said she was disappointed in the city health board’s decision.
“I think working together we can do a better job of improving the health of everybody in the county, which includes Youngstown, than working separately. I hope the conversation doesn’t end,” she said.
Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, president of the city health board, could not be reached for comment. He did not attend Monday’s meeting.
Bishop said Monday’s board poll reflected “more of a consensus of their opinions.” She said there may be a formal motion on the matter at a future meeting.
Board members at the meeting were Dr. Douglas D. Lewis, president pro-tem; the Rev. Lewis Macklin, Artis Gillam Sr. and Christine Silvestri. JoAnn Blunt was also absent.
Bishop said she and the department staff will continue to work on getting accreditation for the department.
To that end, the board received a $7,200 grant to be used to help fund the accreditation process and approved a $6,800 service contract with Ohio State University to provide assistance on developing quality improvement and workforce development plans required in the accreditation process.
Also required for accreditation are a community health needs assessment, which she said was worked on with the county heath department recently; a community health improvement plan and update of its strategic plan.
The board approved travel expenses for several department managers to travel to Columbus later this month to receive training on how to develop quality improvement and workforce development plans.
Bishop said that the board’s action does not mean the city and county public health departments will not work together in some ways.
She said the city health department houses one of the county health department’s Women, Infant and Children program sites, and there is collaboration in other areas.