READING, Pa. — As part of a promise to the community to study the issue, Berks County commissioners on Thursday morning awarded a contract to study the delivery of health care and public services in the county.
A contract was awarded to Health Management Associates, Lansing, Michigan, for an amount not to exceed $168,199.
For several months — at the height of the pandemic in early 2021 — commissioners heard weekly public comments from residents calling for the formation of a county health department.
At the time, the commissioners publicly said they were willing to consider the pros and cons of forming a health department after the COVID-19 health crisis ended.
Public cries for a health service came mostly at a time when COVID-19 vaccines had first emerged and were in high demand.
Commissioners at the time estimated that a health service could cost between $4 million and $6 million and take about two years to set up.
Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt expressed satisfaction with the Commissioners’ vote in favor of awarding the contract for the study.
“I am pleased to see that we are moving forward with the study of health and public health service delivery in Berks County,” Barnhardt said. “I’ll be excited to see this go forward and very curious about the results once it’s finished.”
In other cases, given the rising cost of living due to rising inflation, the commissioners approved a salary increase for all managerial and part-time employees.
All full-time management and confidential employees will receive a $600 increase and all part-time employees will receive a 20-cent increase in their hourly rate.