It’s the middle of summer where at every cookout, family reunion, and block party, the old heads will be signing along and dancing to Frankie Beverly’s song ‘Joy & Pain.’ That’s exactly how I feel about the new Delaware County Health Department opening up in Yeadon – Joy and Pain. 

I’m joyful that in my lifetime the county has finally created a health department. The new county council people ran on finding a way to create a Health Department not realizing the timing was perfect thanks to COVID which brought us a lot of unexpected money from the federal government that they’re using to help pay for its creation.

The pain part of this equation has to do with where the Health Department is located. I’ve heard all the logic and excuses why they choose to put it in Yeadon and none of it will ever make sense to me, so please don’t try explaining it to me again. 

Let’s check off some boxes:

  • Has Chester historically had the highest number of its residents with health disparities in the county (and maybe even the state)? YES
  • Is Chester the only municipality in financial receivership in the state of Pennsylvania and would benefit greatly from a new $8-$10 million dollar a year operation opening in the city? YES
  • Is Chester home to one of the largest hospitals in the county? YES
  • Is Chester home to the largest university in the county with an award winning nursing program and an occupational health, physical therapy, and sports medicine program? YES
  • Is Chester far easier to access than Yeadon by car, bus, and train from anywhere in the county and beyond? YES
  • Is Chester home to the largest cluster of environmental pollution in the county? YES

Chester deserves what it gets (or didn’t get in this case). The city has a Health Bureau and a bunch of people on its Board of Health, and none of them – to my knowledge – put up a fight to bring the county health department to Chester. I didn’t see any of Chester’s pubic officials and the health folks pile into a bus and bum rush county council meetings making a case for the health department to come to Chester. I’m not aware of a letter writing campaign. It’s almost like they’re scared of County Council. I am aware that when we told public officials we’d muster a bunch of residents to support them if they did fight for the health department coming to Chester, we got no response. 

With all the health issues Chester people have suffered from for so long, as a consolation prize, we expect that County Council will surely be open and supportive to quickly doing whatever is in their power to remove the biggest scourge of pollution that is causing so much of the illness in Chester – the trash incinerator. Getting rid of that thing still leaves Chester with a collection of far smaller industrial polluters. However, the one that burns trash from Yeadon to Yonkers has got to be removed from Chester’s waterfront if Chester is ever going to revitalize. 

If we aren’t the right place for the county’s health bureau, we’re definitely not the right place for the county’s trash incinerator. The pain felt by Chester people and its economy with the incinerator far exceeds the joy I have of a health department boosting the economy of Yeadon. If no one else from Chester will stand up, put Stefan Roots on the Solid Waste Authority to make sure Chester has a seat at the table on all issues regarding trash in Delaware County. 

After all that ranting, I am happy to see a health department in the county. But, it should be located in Chester.