Beauchamp calls for county health department
Last updated 2/2/2021 at 10:29pm
As Orange County explores avenues to get more COVID-19 vaccinations into the arms of its citizens, two things keep getting in the way.
The county does not have a hospital, an issue for about five years. And it doesn’t have a health department.
As it is, Orange County has fallen underneath the coverage of the Hardin County Health Department.
Commissioner Theresa Beauchamp wants a health department.
“We [current commissioners] had nothing to do with getting rid of the prior health department,” she said. “I know it’s expensive, but this has made me have a wakeup call.
“Our people in Orange County have to use Hardin County as their health department. We need one, even if people’s taxes have to go up and I know that’s something no one wants to hear.
“And yet, everybody wants to have a health department. When we go over the budget for next year, that we consider having again our own health department.”
John Gothia, Orange County Judge, said the county dissolved its prior health department more than 25 years ago.
“It honestly has not been an issue until this,” Gothia said, referring to the pandemic. “I’ll tell you that not only across the state, but across the country we’ve seen the inadequacies in health department – not in their service, but in their funding.
“We are looking into possibilities down the road to see if we can do that [have a health department again]. We’re looking at grant opportunities. Everything is being looked at to see a way to do that.
“But right now, we’re doing the best we can with what we have.”
According to rough stats published on a state website, Hardin County has been allocated 3,600 vaccine doses while Orange County has gotten only 1,000.
Joel Ardoin, emergency management coordinator, explained this week that vaccinations listed as being allocated to the Hardin County Health Department are actually being divided 50-50 by Hardin and Orange Counties.
Both counties are also getting allocations specifically for local pharmacies.
A review of eight weeks of allocation listings on the Texas State Department of Health Services website shows that Orange County pharmacies have received 1,000 doses of vaccines since Dec. 14.
Hardin County pharmacies have received 1,700 doses, according to the lists and Hardin County’s Health Department has been allocated 1,900 doses.
If you have those 1,900 doses between the two counties, that means Orange County government has received 950 vaccinations for its citizens and Hardin County Health Department 950.
So that’s 1,950 total doses for Orange County citizens either through a county site or private pharmacy, and 2,650 doses to be dispensed by Hardin County, either for its Health Department or its private pharmacies.
Meanwhile, Chambers County, despite having half the population of Orange County, has been allocated 6,100 doses.
But it has a hospital headed by a former U.S. Congressman. And a county health department.