At their meeting on July 20, the Williamson County Commissioners Court approved changing the language of the cooperative agreement governing the Williamson County and Cities Health District (WCCHD). The amended agreement changes the make-up of the health district’s board from a Commissioners Court appointee to a designated staff member of Williamson County.
Allowing county staff to serve on the board ensures more effective communication and coordination between WCCHD and Williamson County. Other member governments are expected to take similar action changing from a city council appointee to the city manager or their staff designee. The Williamson County Commissioners Court will appoint two county staff members to the health district’s board.
In addition to adjusting the board membership, the Commissioners Court approved a memorandum of understanding providing direction to the health district board to secure an outside firm to assess the programs offered and performance of the various departments within WCCHD. The assessment will help ensure the health district is best prepared to meet the public demands of Williamson County’s rapidly growing population, as well as codify lessons learned from the health district’s pandemic response to ensure coordination across member governments moving forward.
This review will parse out the functions of the district deemed essential public health services, assess the performance of these services and make recommendations on how best to oversee these services in the future. A request for proposals is anticipated to be released in late-August, and the findings and recommendations from the outside firm to be presented to the health district board in early 2022.
“The pandemic has shown us that it is critical to have extremely close and seamless communication between the health district and its government members as they provide essential public health services. The changes to the agreement will strengthen that communication,” said County Judge Bill Gravell. “It is equally as important these essential services continue to be provided in a manner that aligns with our other core services and residents’ expectations as our community continues to experience tremendous growth.”
Background on WCCHD
The WCCHD was originally known as the Williamson County Health Department and began serving county residents in 1943. In 1989, the cities of Georgetown, Round Rock, Taylor, Cedar Park, along with Williamson County entered into an agreement to form WCCHD, a separate governmental entity under Texas law. The cooperative agreement was updated in 1992 and in 2007, at which time the cities of Liberty Hill and Hutto joined the Health District, and again in 2013 when Leander also joined the Health District.
WCCHD provides critical public health services including retail food inspections, immunization advocacy, mosquito surveillance, WIC nutrition education, clinical services like well-woman exams and health screens, and epidemiological and emergency responses to disease outbreaks, as well as overseeing application to the county’s indigent healthcare program.
Williamson County has a population of more than 617,000 residents and its growth rate is the fourth fastest in the state and 14th in the country according to the US Census Bureau.