Delaware County to open own health department after relying on Chester County through pandemic

After more than a year of hearing sound bites from local officials telling us about the latest coronavirus cases, testing procedures, and vaccine updates, there is still one health department you have never heard from – Delaware County.

That's because the fifth most populated county in the state does not have its own health department, unlike neighboring counties.

So, when COVID-19 hit, Delaware County's 566,000 residents had to rely on Chester County's 50-year-old health department that came to the rescue.

"You don’t know you need something until it’s there, and then you are like why don’t I have it. That’s what they were going through. They knew they needed a health department because they knew what we did, they knew what Montgomery County did, and Bucks County for their community it just helps their community," said Chester County Commissioner Marian Moscowitz.

Well, Delaware County will soon get its wish.

"Chester County while amazing, and have been able to really help us when we’re thinking about contact tracing, testing, vaccine rollout, all of those things - but they really don’t know our county," said Steering Committee Chair Dr. Monica Taylor.

Dr. Taylor and fellow Delaware County Council members have been pushing for a local health department since before the pandemic. Council has since voted to establish a new health department to handle programs from pandemics to restaurant safety and children's health.

However, the new department will not be housed in the county's sprawling government complex in Media.

FOX 29's Chris O'Connell has learned it will be headquartered in a Yeadon strip mall that now serves a county vaccination clinic.

The goal is to have two other satellite offices just like it opened in other parts of the county.

Delaware County's health department is expected to be headquartered in a Yeadon strip mall with two more satellite offices to come.

"We are trying to re-imagine what a health department looks like," added Dr. Taylor.

She says work has already started and the five-member board of health, along with the new director of health, will soon be appointed. Next January, the county expects to officially open the doors to its new department.

"We have to work with the state and so we've been meeting with the state on a weekly basis to work through all of the programs. So thinking of maternal-child health, epidemiology, chronic disease - and so we’ve been meeting with all the individual departments at the state health department to work on what programs we have to take over and what we have to implement in the county," Dr. Taylor said.

Officials say the department could eventually employ up to 120 people in a wide range of jobs. Most of the funding will come from the state and federal governments.

Many say the development of a Delaware County health department is long overdue.

"Delaware County has pockets, large pockets of communities that need that service. They need that education, the need the vaccines," Moscowitz added.



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