They would be liaisons who are experts in various health fields.
Councilman Jerry Donald (Photo from Frederick County, Md Government)
Frederick, Md (KM) Some change are being considered for the Frederick County Board of Health.
The current panel consists of nine members: the County and the County Executive, and is chaired by the Health Officer. Councilman Jerry Donald is proposing a bill to increase the membership by six. They would be liaisons. . “An epidemiologist, a nurse, a mental health professional, a veterinarian, and two persons with science-related backgrounds,” he says. “Liaisons shall be appointed and confirmed by a majority of the Board of Health. Liaisons shall have no voting privileges., and will not be counted in determining the presence of a quorum.”
Any decisions made by the Board would be made by the elected officials.
Donald says it’s good to have more persons with scientific backgrounds providing input. “We come at this from being in a pandemic. But we have lots of other possible situation. We could have problem with water. We’ve had that before,” he says.
Under the legislation proposed by Councilman Donald, the Board of Health “assist and cooperate” with the Maryland Department of Health in health-related matters, and that would include behavioral health. It would also have the responsibility for the health and sanitary interests of the people in Frederick County, and that includes the investigation and causes of the study of diseases, epidemics and nuisances “affecting public health behavioral health, the prevention of contagious diseases, and the preservation of health.”
It also would advise the County Executive and the County Council, and have the power to administer oaths, issue subpoenas an apply for injunctive relief.
Under this bill, the Board of Pubic Health would be required to meet in May and October of each year. It met several times during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Donald says it’s quite obvious why an epidemiologist would be a liaison to the Board of Health. He also says nurses bring an interesting perspective. “They are absolutely the first line of caring for people, and they know when some things are understaffed. And they understand when the system is at a breaking point because they are the breaking point,” he says.
A veterinarian’s expertise is unique. “We could have animal outbreaks in all sorts of things. We could hoof-and-mouth disease. We could have any sort of them. We could also have a contagious spread from animal to human,” Donald says.
The Council discussed this bill during a meeting last week.
By Kevin McManus