Fiscal year 2023 is being considered a COVID-19 “transition year” by the Oak Park Public Health Department as the siege of the pandemic has been lessened of late but not yet defeated. To continue offering COVID-19 mitigation efforts, the department is requesting $303,000 in funding from the village’s American Rescue Plan Act moneys.

The village board has $18.6 million in remaining ARPA funds, having already allocated $20.3 million to reimburse the village for pandemic-related expenses and to support community organizations impacted by COVID-19.

Much of what the health department is requesting is currently being paid for by grants that will soon expire, including keeping the department’s epidemiologist for another six months. The epidemiologist is currently being compensated through a grant from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which expires in June. The health department is requesting $38,565 from ARPA coffers to keep the epidemiologist on the payroll through next December.

 The health department plans to continue its COVID-19 vaccination clinics and testing, for which staff has requested $64,000 and $35,000 respectively. The majority of the amount requested for the testing site would be used to pay the part-time testing coordinator. The part-time testing intern would receive $5,000 of the requested amount in compensation.

The health department brought on three contracted nurses during the pandemic. To continue employing those nurses through 2023, staff has requested $110,000. Staff also requested $64,000 to pay for an assistant for the health department’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

Finally, the health department is requesting $30,000 for the implementation of the Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Needs. IPLAN is a community health assessment and planning process conducted every five years by local health departments in Illinois. Many of the requirements to remain a certified health department are satisfied through IPLAN. The plan involves assessing the organizational capacity of local health departments, as well as assessing the health needs of the communities served. The creation of a community health plan, which focuses on at least three major health problems, is the third essential element of the IPLAN.

The village board is set to continue discussing ARPA allocations at its Nov. 17 meeting.

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