Denton County commissioners took care of routine but important health-related business Tuesday by placing more than $600,000 in grant money in the current budget for the health department.
Court members voted unanimously to approve four grants, moving $661,868 in unspent grant money from the 2012 budget to the 2013 fiscal year budget to keep services going.
“All four agenda items are public health preparedness items; it happens that their funding crosses our fiscal year,” Denton County Health Department Director Bing Burton said.
He said the grants, which were received in early 2011, have to be carried over since the fiscal year ends at a different time of year than the grants.
About six staff members are employed under one of the grants, which funds communicable disease investigation and some other activities, Burton said.
“All the West Nile cases are on that grant,” he said. “We also do preparedness for other health emergencies. We do plans for things like small pox, or if there were a bioterrorism attack, we do exercises with some of the municipalities,” he said.
Burton said the grant allows for the training and equipping of medical reserve corps personnel to help Denton or surrounding counties in emergencies.
“We have several hundred individuals trained and equipped to assist,” Burton said.
The grant, which the county received about nine years ago, is one of the biggest ones the health department has.
County Judge Mary Horn touted the success of the medical reserve corps to help in emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the county’s work on communicable diseases and inoculating children in the school system.
“We want them to be healthy,” Horn said. “This preventative action is in the best interest of the public.”
The grants the county receives are vital for all residents, she said.
“If we didn’t have it … any of us could be in jeopardy of catching all kinds of terrible things,” she said. “There is no doubt in my mind it prevents a lot of problems for a whole lot of people. There’s a different between working and working smart. I think this is working smart.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.