"Combining health districts, I think has the potential to be a really great thing for the delivery of public health in our community," Peggy Burton, Portsmouth City Health Commissioner said. "However it needs to be done for the right reasons. Most districts that have done this, was with priority being given to public health delivery, and not to save money."
Burton said she is aware of two health districts that have combined recently, with little savings to the city.
"It's true things are changing. In 2011 the state is giving health districts the opportunity to become voluntarily accredited. To do that it requires a lot of work. You have to have a community health improvement plan, strategic plan, community health assessment and various other things. In order to get grants, it’s going affect that if you are not accredited," Burton said. "There is going to be a lot of work being done and I can not imagine, us trying to transition in the middle of something like this."
Burton did say she was open to the idea, and if it were done for the right reasons it could improve a lot of things.
She said the idea needs to be brought before the county district advisory council. "They are the ones that will decide weather they want to combine with us, not the other way around," Burton said.
The advisory council is made up of 16 townships and four mayors.
"I know that interest has not been there in the past. I have resolutions from 1998 and 2003. One from the board of health and one from the district advisory council saying they have no interest in partnering," Burton said.
She said the advisory council meets once a year. For this matter to come before the council a special meeting would have to be called.
"We would have to clarify what the rolls would be. At this point in time, the county (health department) seems to be operating very efficiently. I do not see why we would be talking about one unit," Jim Warren, President of the Scioto County District Advisory Council and the mayor of New Boston said. "I'm content with the way we are."
One of the issues surrounding the discussions is the projected $8 billion dollar short fall the state will be facing.
"I think both health departments are working together efficiently now," Warren said.
After some discussion First Ward Councilman Kevin Johnson decided to withdraw his motion to bring legislation forward on the issue. Johnson's legislation would have called for the formation of a committee to make recommendations on the issue. He said more research is needed on the issue and he would bring it back up at a later date.