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New Fishers Health Department completes 500 coronavirus tests

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Hamilton County’s health department says Fishers’ new health department is in charge of all of that cities residents.

Like all new things, Fishers is still figuring out the best way to navigate the new workflow.

There are so many different jobs a health department has to do, but Mayor Scott Fadness doesn’t just want to hire on a bunch of staff. He wants to see what works best and hire within the taxpayer’s budget.

You can see the results of the Fishers Health Department‘s work right in the middle of the city’s downtown area. Fadness says Fishers has done 500 free COVID-19 tests and residents have completed over 2,000 assessments.

“So we’re really appreciative of the community’s willingness to engage in this and ensure the safety of our residents,” Fadness said.

But, COVID-19 testing isn’t the only duty of the health department. It includes water sampling and restaurant inspections. The mayor says many of those duties are being handled by people with the right skill sets; for example, firefighter-paramedics stepping up to pitch in where they can after hours.

“We still maintain our minimum staffing for fire and paramedicine,” Fadness said. “This is really just creating the opportunities for firemen to be able to work off duty if they so choose, which, most firemen, if you get to know fire culture, just about every one of them has another job outside of just being a firefighter because they work 24 hours on and then 48 hours off.”

All of the operations are being funded by a half-million dollars in taxpayer money. But, the mayor says, that’s not an extra charge to Fishers residents; instead, it’s something they were already paying to the Hamilton County Health Department.

“We believe that that will be adequate,” Fadness said. “Between that and the miscellaneous fees that you charge for these permits and things like that, we feel will be more than adequate to meet our needs for our services.”

The eventual goal is to hire on the right amount of people to keep the budget neutral.

“What we’re trying to do is get into it, understand it, know what the workloads look like,” Fadness said. “And then if we need to add staff, we can. We’ve identified funding for that, will have funding for it. But we want to make sure we’re not adding staff just for the sake of adding staff to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars. So, we’re going to do this very methodically as we move forward. And if there are opportunities or there is a need, we will add people, but we’ll also try to leverage the infrastructure we have here.”

The mayor says although the health department was created quickly, it’s not being hasty. He says people shouldn’t expect anything less than what Fishers residents were seeing before.