The effort to have a joint City/County health department is not over. On Wednesday, Councilman Victor Hernandez announced his intention to pursue the idea, despite a presentation by the Board of Health that such a joint venture is not feasible at this time.
Hernandez said in a written statement, "It's time we push forward a final, definitive answer to the Health Department issue."
Last year the City Council scaled back plans to decentralize the Health Department. The idea at one time was to move certain Health Department functions to other departments and then hire private sector businesses to carry out other functions. It was perceived by activists, elected officials, and the public as a plan to cut the Health Department.
Councilman Jim Gilbreath last year proposed talks between the City and the County for a joint health department as a way to get more services for less money.
Recent word from the Board of Health did not discourage Hernandez.
His proposal for next week's City Council meeting says " the City of Lubbock Board of Health is authorized and directed to initiate/continue communication and discussion with appropriate representatives of the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County, University Medical Center, Covenant Health System, and/or other public and/or private entities which the Board of Health sees fit, to explore ... mutually beneficial efforts "
The proposal also calls for the Board of Health to list the top ten health-related issues in Lubbock. It also calls upon the board to develop a model or vision for the Health Department's future.
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