Citizens For A Better Norwood

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is the Norwood Health Dept. at risk post Donna Laake?

As many community members are aware, Health Commissioner Donna Laake is retiring at the end of August. We are saddened, and we cannot thank her enough for her many years of dogged dedication to the health and safety of all Norwood residents and visitors to our community. We wish her every happiness in her retirement. Because of her superb leadership and tenacity and her outstanding staff, Donna is leaving us an incomparable health department that provides vital services, some of them unique to Norwood, that so many of us, our children and other loved ones rely on for our well being.

And that is precisely why we were distressed recently to learn from two emails Gary Arthur, President Pro Tem of the Norwood Health Commission, sent to City officials that members of Norwood City Council have been discussing possible changes that could, from the sounds of it, change how health department services are delivered to our community. We do not know exactly which council members have been discussing this; we do not know if their discussions have been in private or in public meetings; and we do not know if Health Dept. funding will be discussed at tomorrow's Finance and Audit Committee meeting (see blog directly below). What we do know is the City can contract for many but not all current health department services through the Hamilton County Health Department. We plan to find out and publish which services are not available from HCHD, but we already know one vital service that is not: home visits RN Betsy Williams makes to monitor the welfare of some of the most vulnerable among us, adults age 50 or older who are at risk, predominately senior citizens and the elderly.

It is not our intent to induce panic among our readers about this development. Our intent is to inform our readers by publishing factual information and public documents regarding an issue that could potentially impact every single person in our community. Today, we’ve posted the two emails, both public documents, that Gary Arthur sent last week regarding council members’ discussions about the Health Dept.:

1.) 7/22/08 to Finance Committee Chair Chuck Barlow and 11 others and
2.) 7/25/08 to Mayor Tom Williams and 15 others.

We have redacted certain personal information from these, such as Mr. Arthur’s cell phone #, etc. Click here to read both emails. Tomorrow, we plan to publish descriptions of all the services currently provided by the Norwood Health Dept.

Lastly, and we’ll probably be repeating it a few times in the coming days, we would like everyone to consider this: public records show that in 2007, the general fund of the City of Norwood provided $390,000 of the Norwood Health Dept.’s total budget. That’s a cost of only $20, approximately, for every man, woman, and child who lives here.