Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said the City of Fishers was fully aware of health department responsibilities prior to creating the city’s own health department, separate from the Hamilton County Health Dept.
The Hamilton County Health Dept. relinquished its duties to the City of Fishers May 4. The Fishers City Council established the Fishers Health Dept. April 24. The decision means the Hamilton County Health Dept. no longer has jurisdiction in the City of Fishers.
Some duties offered by the Hamilton County Health Dept. included COVID-19 positive case investigation, communicable disease investigation of 70 other diseases, tuberculosis control, HIV and pregnancy testing, childhood immunizations, childhood blood-lead levels, health education activities, birth and death records and certifications, mosquito monitoring and control, rodent complaint investigation and mitigation, septic permitting and inspection, well permitting and water testing, restaurant and other food service inspections and more.
“We are aware of the confusion and disruption this change may cause to many citizens and businesses and we will make every attempt to minimize those problems,” stated Barry McNulty, administrator at the Hamilton County Health Dept. “The health and well-being of everyone in Hamilton County has been and always will be the focus of the Hamilton County Health Dept.”
Fadness said the decision was not made because of the Hamilton County Health Dept.’s performance in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In general, what we see from this COVID-19 pandemic is population health is very much a key component in a city’s ability to thrive economically and from a quality of life standpoint,” Fadness said. “We think there’s a delivery model at the local level that might provide real opportunities to manage outbreaks going forward and help educate and bring value to our residents.”
Fadness said the city was fully aware of what a health department offered its residents prior to making the decision. Currently, the city is evaluating its staff to decide where synergies may exist.
“We don’t want to bulk up with a ton of staff. We have the opportunity to use resources and people already on our team. There’s a lot of synergies with the staff we already have,” Fadness said. “We will be very selective about how many additional people we hire. We think we can leverage the skillsets already here in the city.”
For restaurants, in which the county’s permits are no longer valid, Fadness said a system has already been put in place.
“We grandfathered it in, so if the restaurant had a permit from the county, we have an online form they can submit to for a Fishers permit at no extra cost to them,’ Fadness said. “It’s a three-minute process. We are ready and willing to work with all those folks going forward to do a streamlined process and also hopefully reduce some of their fees.”
The city’s new health department also provides free COVID-19 testing to all residents.
Since establishing the free testing, more than 2,200 residents have been assessed as of press time. Testing is available for all Fishers residents ages 18 and older and is conducted in partnership with Mid-America Clinical Laboratories. Nasal swab testing is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the City Services Building, 3 Municipal Dr. An online assessment must be completed in order to reserve an appointment. Walk-up testing is not available. To complete the assessment, visit fishersrecovery.com/testing/. Test results will be available within 72 hours. If there’s a positive test, the City of Fishers has a plan in place.
“If someone gets a positive test, there’s a group of registered nurses who will conduct contact tracing and following up with the individual to identify any people directly exposed. They will educate and train those individuals in the best practice to mitigate the spread of the virus and improve the quality of life for that person while sick,” Fadness said.
The Fishers City Council approved $2 million from the city’s cash reserves to provide the testing service and establish the department, and, moving forward, Fadness said he’s fully confident the Fishers Health Dept. will be able to live within the confines of tax revenue already collected and will not cause a new tax.
“It has been a true honor to work with and for the citizens of Fishers all these years,” McNulty stated. “We are committed to our mission during this time of transition and fully expect that all citizens of Hamilton County will be afforded a wide spectrum of public health services whether being served by the Hamilton County Health Dept. or the City of Fishers Health Dept.”
Fishers residents with health-related questions should contact the Fishers Health Dept. at 317-567-5045 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.