A resolution establishing the Bastrop County Health Department was signed Aug. 28. The resolution followed a yearlong study with Texas A&M to assess the county’s health needs.

The overview

The creation of the health department allows the county to access state and federal funds. The department will continue to analyze the specific health challenges facing Bastrop County as it develops over the next year.

“It's really about keeping everybody as healthy as we can and assuring a good quality of life if you live here in Bastrop County,” said Donna Nichols, Bastrop County Health Department interim executive director.

According to Nichols, the department will focus on promoting and protecting the health of Bastrop residents as well as preventing disease in the county. The department will aim to make health more equitable in the county and support vulnerable populations.

A growing need

Nichols said county leadership highlighted the need for a health department. As Bastrop County's population rises above 104,000, the need for a health department is growing.

“The county commissioners and the county judge had the vision and supported unanimously the need to establish a public health department because a public health department is a public service that supports and serves everyone in the county,” Nichols said.

Nichols said the public health department will lessen the burden on rural hospitals, offering an alternate option to emergency rooms for nonemergency illnesses.

“It's time for Bastrop County to join some of the sister counties in Central Texas in terms of [setting] up a health department that focuses on promoting and protecting the health of its residents here in the county,” Nichols said.