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Allen County opts in to a healthier future

For immediate release

FORT WAYNE (June 5, 2023) – A historic agreement to accept state funding is a meaningful move toward protecting and promoting public health in Allen County.

At legislative session Friday, county officials agreed to opt in to receive public health funding approved by Indiana lawmakers in April and signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in May. The legislation is based on recommendations forwarded by the Governor’s Public Health Commission – a panel made up of public health professionals, state health department leaders, former legislators, hospital representatives, local leaders and others.

Allen County Department of Health Administrator Mindy Waldron was a member of the commission, which worked for more than a year to study ways to improve public health in Indiana.

“We’re grateful the vote passed for this much-needed state funding that will allow us to be more proactive and responsive in our efforts to provide core public health services to residents of Allen County,” Waldron said. “This added funding will significantly affect our budget and positively impact efforts to promote and protect public health through programs and services provided by our department as well as valued community partners. We are extremely grateful for the leadership shown by the Indiana Department of Health and the other Commission members, alongside the legislators from around the state who supported these efforts.”

The legislation calls for $75 million to be provided for local health departments in Indiana in 2024 and $150 million in 2025. To receive the funding, counties must opt in.

In Allen County, per-capita funding for public health is expected to increase from about $6 per capita to about $30 per capita.

Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Gutwein noted that lack of spending on public health in Indiana has resulted in poorer health outcomes across a variety of areas for many Hoosiers.

“This additional funding creates an opportunity to really move the needle in a positive direction,” he said. “Also, a healthier population is a more productive population. Improved health among our residents is essential to continued economic development in Allen County.”

The Allen County Department of Health is a full-service agency dedicated to promoting the health, safety and well-being of all residents. Programs and services include providing immunizations and communicable disease testing and prevention, food protection including inspections of restaurants and other consumer protection programs, pest, vector and pollution control and abatement, and keeping and providing vital records such as birth and death certificates.

In addition, the legislation outlines other core public health services that would be performed including child fatality review, tobacco prevention and cessation, and maternal and child health programming, among others.

The Allen County Department of Health will work to determine whether new, additional programming in those areas will be developed in-house. The Department also could work with community partners to develop or fund programs and/or services.