Consider, an elderly disabled lady living just North of Oshkosh may be eligible for a county health department nurse to visit the home, ensuring that this lady in need is receiving the important services necessary to ensure her safety and health. The county may be able to supply a Radon test kit for only $1 for the older home. Other health needs and issues could potentially be identified and connected with existing services offered by the Winnebago County Health Department.
Then, this lady moves into the city of Oshkosh, and because of her new location, and the different health department that serves this area, the lady isn't eligible for any of these services. Why? Because over the last 10 years, the county health department has actively sought avenues to serve county residents and to greatly expand their role as public health professionals. The city of Oshkosh health department took a different path that focuses almost exclusively on state-mandated services, possibly because of being stuck under the authority of community development, or due to underfunding, or maybe because of a lack of genuine leadership.
Note that this is not a criticism of the city health department staff, who may be fulfilling their jobs with superior quality and professionalism. In fact, my numerous interactions with local health department non-managerial staff have been what would be expected - professional, honest, dedicated, confidential, and helpful.
This post is intended to serve as an endorsement of the merger of our health services - the county and city. This will expand and improve service for Oshkosh residents. It will potentially allow the area to qualify for additional funding due to the increased population of the newly formed health service. It will eliminate the unnecessary burden and bureaucratic waste caused by two health departments. It will remove some of the awkwardness and gaps created by such borders, as demonstrated by the beach testing silliness. An important one - it will likely save money without costing service. Further, this type of merger is common place across the state. Lastly, Winnebago County Health Director Doug Gieryn is an ambitious and effective health leader, and has demonstrated a genuine concern for the public health and an uncanny ability at getting things done.