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Comments Gianfranco Pezzino, Shawnee County health officer, explains new health orders during a coronavirus press conference Friday, Aug.
But the departure of former health department leader Midge Ransom in April left him as interim director — along with the unprecedented workload that entailed. Over 20 local public health administrators have reed or retired since the pandemic began. Others have reported being threatened or have found themselves in court defending quarantine orders to angry constituents.
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Funding for county health departments has remained stagnant for years. The Berlin Wall was still standing the last time the state increased their contributions and shrinking local tax bases mean rural health departments could struggle financially in the years to come.
The politicized environment surrounding public health was a reason commonly cited by many officials in their decision to retire, with tales of threats, police escorts and highly contentious public meetings as they aimed to shepherd their communities through the pandemic. One of those outgoing officials is Dr.
A veteran of public health, Pezzino said that there were hard times before — but nothing like this. In Kansas, local public health officers are not generally the be-all-end-all of dictating what local health responses look like. Often, a county board of commissioners is also the board of health for a given jurisdiction and county health leaders advise them on a course of action.
Over the course of the pandemic, state officials have given their local counterparts more courtbey in handling the pandemic, including decisions on whether or not to impose mask mandates. But health officials have remained vocal in advocating for mitigation strategies.
COVID could prompt big changes for Kansas health agencies
Sometimes that means going to court in support of a quarantine order, which an affected individual can legally challenge. Why do I have to do all this?
Not go and sit in court and have angry people yell at you. Their duties range from routine vaccinations to supporting the Women, Infants, and Children nutritional program and, toleka some counties, health departments serve as clinics with basic medical and dental services.
When diseases occur locally, health departments spring into action to investigate outbreaks of rabies or food poisoning. A pandemic, however, is a different matter altogether. Local governments provide much of the funding for county health departments, Kriesel said — generally around half of their excort come from taxpayers within the county.
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Federal grant funding often helps plug gaps, with support from the state of Kansas a small slice of their financial support. The state is not alone in that regard. Public funding for public health efforts nationally has waned in recent years.
Hunt noted that there was a spike in investment in emergency preparedness in the name of fighting potential bioterrorism in the early s but that those funds have since dried up. Becoming less reactive needs to be a goal for policymakers, he argued. Most Popular.