Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Madison County Board Prepared to Establish Health Department

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Madison County Board Prepared to Establish Health Department

Article excerpt

After decades of discussion, the Madison County Board is poised to act on a proposal submitted Wednesday to establish a health department to control infectious diseases and inspect food and water supplies.

County Board members held a special meeting Wednesday morning to hear the details of a department that would begin with a budget of $890,000, absorb the operations of the county tuberculosis clinic and be in full operation in two years.

The board may vote on the proposal at its regular meeting next Wednesday.

If the plan is approved, Madison County would end its status as the largest county and the only one of only 11 of the 102 in the state to lack a health department.

County Board Harold Byers, D-Highland, said he believed the department was needed to provide cheaper and more accessible immunization shots for children. He said the county could charge a few dollars for measles and other shots that parents must pay $60 to $70 to get from a doctor.

James K. Monday, county director of administration, told board members that the primary duties of the department would be to control infectious disease, inspect the 2,000 restaurants and food stores in the county and inspect private water supplies.

He said the department would be started under a change in state law some time ago that allows a county board to establish a department and declare itself the health board. An advisory board - with a doctor, dentist, nurse and two other experts - would be appointed to assist. But the operation of the department would remain under control of the County Board.

Voter approval is unnecessary, and Monday said most counties in the state had started their health departments under this law.

The County Board voted down a proposal to start a department seven years ago, and a petition drive sponsored by the county last year failed to get enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot. …

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