Change was mandatory. I recently reviewed the Health Department as part of the CityView management auditing program. Despite some severe new financial challenges coming from Jefferson City, the bad news seems to be slowing.
Here are some of the highlights of the presentation:We changed the strategic direction of the critical multi-department Lead Safe St. Louis program and demanded results. The Health Department is now testing more kids and helping more families. The percentage of children testing positive is lower.Health Commissioner Melba Moore developed a plan to improve the department and take it in new directions. As a result, the Board of Health and Hospitals has explored and implemented new partnerships with the Missouri Department of Public Health, the St. Louis County Health Department, People’s Health Care, and St. Louis ConnectCare. These partnerships will benefit the entire region. Some of these partnerships have already improved our Health Department’s efficiency and effectiveness — allowing scarce resources to better to serve more City residents. For instance, People’s Health Center partnered with the Department of Health and quadruped the number of children receiving immunizations. Through this partnership, more children also received holistic health care. The State Public Health Department has begun conducting STD and environmental laboratory tests for the City of St. Louis. And the City has entered into a MOU with St. Louis County Health Department to conduct ice cream testing. These partnerships should save the City hundreds of thousands of dollars, while assuring quality service. A new staff training program will move the department toward professional accreditation.
Working with volunteer fundraiser Ed Throop, money is being raised to build a new Animal House. A new advisory board will improve service delivery.School Health Nurses are focusing on lead testing, nutrition education, anti-obesity training and general health assessments in some public schools and in all the parochial schools.
There is still a lot to be done to improve the proficiency and accountability of the Health Department. I will keep you posted.