Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 11
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
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Health Department Elaborates on Latest Sharing of Services

Dilshanie Perera

While the relative merits of consolidation and shared services between the Princetons are being considered, the already consolidated Princeton Regional Health Department is forging connections with other municipalities in the region. Health Officer David Henry reported on the latest happenings in public health at last week’s meeting of Borough Council.

In 2010, Princeton’s Health Department shared services with Trenton, Hamilton, and Mercer County for sexually transmitted disease clinical services and also shared services with Montgomery for weekend animal control efforts, Mr. Henry said.

The department has also recently partnered with the City of Trenton to provide Spanish translation services to its constituents. Trenton’s Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Vital Statistics will provide translation work on an as-needed basis to Princeton’s department via the web.

The service can happen in real-time with the use of computers and Skype, which also can provide a video interface, allowing for both audio and visual translation capacities. It costs Princeton $1 per one minute of service, up to a maximum of $400 for the year.

By partnering with Trenton, the health department creates a link for translation services in other Borough departments as well. While the Skype-based program has not yet been utilized by Princeton beyond the initial pilot, Mr. Henry noted that he was pleased to have the capability within the health department for future use.

Mr. Henry also noted that under the department’s Continuity of Operations Program, staff can provide the same level of service as the departmental office in multiple sites using specialized laptops and amenities in the public health response vehicle.

The department has set up a new website,, in order to liase with the public in an online format, and to have a location to post health news and resources. Mr. Henry anticipated that staff would be able to post the results of restaurant food inspections on the website shortly. The departmental laptops would also allow staff to be able to record food inspection reports onsite.

“We have no equipment needs to speak of until 2013,” Mr. Henry acknowledged, noting that “we haven’t used municipal money for computers since 2007.” State grants have contributed to equipment costs for the health department. Approximately $175,000 was collected last year from fees, licenses, and permits.

Mr. Henry and his staff are currently discussing shared vital statistics overflow with Plainsboro prior to the hospital’s move. The department currently sees an intake of about 2,000 births per year.

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