State College borough conducts feasibility study for new independent health department

Local News

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) – A feasibility study is currently underway for a new independent health department in Centre County.

“What it is, is an Act 315 Health Department, that’s an authorization from the state government, for us to create a local health department here in State College or Centre County…however it comes together” said Assistant to the Manager Douglas Shontz.

According to Shontz, the need for an independent health department was sparked from the pandemic. He says the advantage of having one include direct access to data and funding.

“But even beyond just the Covid-19 response it encapsulates so much more, really what this does is it expands maybe some of our sustainability efforts, maybe our air quality efforts, our bicycling efforts,” listed Shontz.

But he admits that along with all the pros, comes some cons.

“From a disadvantage stand point, you lose that statewide coordination, and you have specific efforts that are done here which could create a level of confusion,” said Shontz.

Another disadvantage he adds, is grant funding.

“Having our local health department might inhibit our impact to get state funding grants that are done right now through the health department,” said Shontz.

As of right now he says the borough is looking into costs, as well as speaking with other Centre region municipalities and local health systems to gauge the practicality of it all.

“If we just work in our own little bubble here and only focus on the 4.5 square miles of the State College borough that doesn’t really serve the overall community health needs. The overall goal is to improve the health and wellness of the community and if you’re going to do that and not talk to everybody you’re not meeting your overall goal,” said Shontz.

According to Shontz they’re on pace to present the study to council come the fall.

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