Researchers Urge Increased Funding for Local Health Departments and Stronger Care Coordination as COVID-19 Pandemic Worsens
Associate Professor Jie Chen, Lecturer Priscilla Novak and doctoral students Ivy Benjenk and Deanna Barath in the Department of Health Policy and Management, discuss the vital role of local health departments in preparedness and response measures needed to respond to disease threats such as COVID-19, and call for increased funding and support in a new article to be published Thursday, March 26 on the Medical Care Blog.
They explain that while the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has taken the lead on responding to COVID-19 on the federal level and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has taken the lead on vaccine development, local health departments are responsible for providing on-the-ground communication, support and surveillance.
They refer to evidence that shows local health departments are trusted sources of information for the communities they serve, helping to improve population health, reduce emergency department utilization, avoidable hospital readmissions and preventable deaths.
They highlight funding and care coordination as two areas where local health departments struggle and argue against the President’s Budget Request to Congress, which calls for significant budget cuts to the CDC—a funding body for local health departments.
They also advocate for the implementation of technologies and programs that strengthen care coordination among local health departments, public health laboratories, hospitals and the CDC.
They maintain that since local health departments take a leading role in communicating with the public about the risk of COVID-19, and providing linkages in the medical care system, “Now is the time to act to ensure that that local health departments have adequate means and technologies to respond to emerging threats such as COVID-19 as well as novel issues that are sure to emerge.”