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Spotlight on Denton County Health Department and Medical Examiner’s office

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In this month’s column I would like to highlight the good work and efforts of two of our Denton County offices, the Denton County Health Department and the Denton County Medical Examiner’s office.  You may not come into contact with these two offices frequently, but they provide vital local services to our county residents.

Grant Funding Supplements Denton County Health Department Services

The Denton County Health Department provides a wide range of services to County residents.  Some of the services are targeted especially for low income families, while some are designed to serve all residents. 

Grants from the Texas Department of State Health Services help to cover part of the costs of these services.  For instance, the Immunization Program provides vaccines to all Denton County children.  A sliding fee scale is in place so that low income families can receive the vaccines at little or no charge.   The grant from the State to Denton County amounts to over $280,000, which helps cover the salaries for the clerks and nurses in the Denton and the Lewisville Office.

Another grant from the State helps to cover the costs associated with treating TB cases in Denton County.  We average about 15 new cases of TB a year.  Almost all of them are among foreign born individuals who have relocated to Denton County.  New cases receive multiple medications to treat the tuberculosis.  For those patients that are unable to come to the health department several days a week, we have a staff person visit them at home to assure that the medications are taken as directed.  This is the only way to assure that the public is protected.  This grant is for a little over $100,000 to help control TB in Denton County.

The Local Public Health Services Grant is much smaller, almost $49,000.  It is used to help support our Chronic Disease Program.  Nationwide, heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading causes of death.  The same is true in Denton County.   Our Chronic Disease Program encourages individuals and families to make healthy decisions, like not smoking, eating nutritious foods, and getting essential exercise.   Educational programs such as this are at the heart of population based health, and wellness.

Other State grants for WIC – $2,000,000, Public Health Preparedness – $590,000, and Primary Care – $125,000 comprise a significant part of the public health budget for Denton County. 

Denton County Medical Examiner’s Office Plays Vital Role

The Medical Examiner’s Office investigates all unnatural deaths in Denton County, as well as natural deaths where the decedent does not have a substantial medical history.  Denton County has a Medical Examiner’s Office in Denton, but contracts with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office to perform the actual autopsy.

The office is charged with providing evidence to the medical examiner performing the examination, so that he/she can make a determination as to the manner and cause of death.  This process is accomplished by scene investigation, witness interviews, retrieval of social and medical records relating to the decedent’s past, as well as coordination with federal, state, and local law enforcement.  Through August of this year, the Medical Examiner’s Office has investigated the deaths listed below:

Natural:  76
Accidental: 24
Suicide: 36
Homicide: 5
Undetermined:  2
Jurisdiction terminated (Decedent has a significant medical history): 731
Cremation letters issued:  604

In Denton County, prescription drug deaths seem to be more prevalent at this point in the year than any other death category.

The top three busiest cities for our office are:

•    Denton
•    Lewisville
•    Carrollton

The Medical Examiner’s Office has been providing coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since October 1, 1989.

If you have any questions or comments please contact me at 940-349-2801 or email me at andy.eads@dentoncounty.com.

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