Lake County General Health District to Serve as Recruiting Agency for Geauga Public Health – News-Herald

The Geauga Board of Health voted unanimously to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the Lake County General Health District to serve as Geauga’s public health staffing agency.

The agreement will save Geauga County residents up to $600,000 annually in health service costs, while maintaining all of the services they currently receive at Geauga Public Health, according to a news release.

“This is not a takeover and this is not a merger,” Geauga Public Health Board Chairman Richard Piraino said in the statement. “The Lake County General Health District will serve as the recruiting agency for Geauga.

“Our agreement with Lake is the best way for Geauga to maintain control of the healthcare services we provide to our residents while saving those residents a lot of money every year.”

The agreement takes effect on April 3. Because the Lake County General Health District will be staffing in the future, 17 Geauga Public Health employees will be laid off effective March 31. They will be able to apply to the Lake County General Health District to provide these recruitment services, but no one is guaranteed a position, the statement said.

“We know this is painful for our public health workers in Geauga, and we are truly sorry. GPH faces a budget shortfall of over $500,000 in 2024, and we had to make a very difficult decision,” Piraino said in the statement. “We have worked diligently to find the best solution, and we are entering into this agreement to ensure that we can continue to provide the people we serve in Geauga County with the services they need and deserve.”

All Geauga public health officials, whether GPH employees or Lake contract employees, will continue to work on behalf of and under the direction of the Geauga Board of Health, according to the release. The Geauga Board of Health, appointed by Geauga’s elected officials, will continue to oversee GPH’s policies, programs and services and will continue to issue its own permits, maintain its vehicles, office, website and identity.

“People in Geauga will continue to travel to the same places to receive the same services,” Piraino said. “None of this will change.”

Due to the agreement between the health districts, the combined populations of the two counties will open up the opportunity to apply for larger grants, which are essential for funding health services, unavailable to Geauga or Lake alone, the statement said. And the efficiencies that will be achieved provide benefits to both health departments and residents of both counties.

The benefits, according to the Geauga Health Council, include:

• Access additional programs such as outreach services due to increased access to grant funding sources

• Reduce the cost of public health services for residents by funding some current programs through eligible grants

• Sharing specialist staff, for example in the areas of data analysis, accreditation, community needs assessment, emergency preparedness, finance and grant writing

• Increased coordination of emergency response and public health emergencies.

“Clearly we can be stronger together and more fiscally responsible to the residents of Geauga County,” Piraino said.

Lake County General Health District to Serve as Recruiting Agency for Geauga Public Health – News-Herald

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