Update, Dec. 20: On Wednesday, the county commissioners voted unanimously to reauthorize the Health Advisory Council’s charter and appoint the 11 individuals who applied to serve on it.
The Lancaster County commissioners appear ready to reauthorize the county’s Health Advisory Council to continue for another two years.
The commissioners are scheduled to vote Wednesday to extend the council’s charter to the end of 2025. The extension stipulates one-year terms for members rather than staggered two-year terms; there are no other changes, Solicitor Jackie Pfursich said.
The volunteer board, formed in the wake of the pandemic, has been “finding its way,” and contributing to county preparedness, Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said during a discussion of the council at the commissioners’ work session Tuesday. “It’s important enough to continue.”
Lancaster Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Pasquale provided a summary of activities undertaken over the past two years. They fall under four headings, he said:
- Public information development
- Health incident surveillance
- Emergency preparedness
- Fostering partnerships & collaboration
The council was created as an alternative to a county Health Department, which D’Agostino and Commissioner Josh Parsons said would add red tape and expense without necessarily improving health outcomes. Its nine members include representatives of the four county health systems.
Seven of the original nine members are proposing to continue on the board. Drs. Scott Snyder and Michael Ripchinski are stepping down to make way for new representatives from their respective health systems (Penn State Health and Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health).
Lastly, two applicants are proposing to join the board, increasing the total from nine to 11: Alisa Jones, president and CEO of Union Community Care, a federally qualified health center that focuses on underserved populations; and Dr. Bryan Cicuto, a plastic surgeon with UPMC. The charter allows for a roster of nine to 13.
Bringing the group together to share information and build relationships has been valuable, Pasquale said. The council contributed to the county’s recently approved Health and Medical Preparedness Plan, its first, and has been inviting community stakeholders to give briefings on public health issues including housing, child welfare and the opioid epidemic.