Residents must be able to rely on health officials

In 2009, Salem officials opted to have the health department returned to the city’s jurisdiction, rather than contracting with the county health department for services. At that time they felt they could operate the city health department more feasibly than what was being paid to the county and they wanted to offer those services for the convenience of their residents. The city had contracted with the county for health services since the 1990s.

In the last two months, however, the Salem Health Board has been forced to raise food service license fees and cut hours of operation, and now Mayor John Berlin says the department is in danger of running at a deficit.

The Salem Health Department also allowed its flu shot license to lapse, and now, in the middle of a very active flu season, the department is unable to give inoculations.

It now appears that the city can’t serve its residents as efficiently as the county can. Mayor Berlin and City Council’s finance committee have wisely decided to explore the possibility of returning Salem’s health services to the county’s jurisdiction.

Something as essential as health services must be provided in, not only the most economically feasible way, but also in the most reliable way, be it through the county or the city.