Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the creation of the SuffolkSHARE Public Health Partnership, the latest offering under the County’s shared services initiative. The partnership will leverage the efforts of ten local governments and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services to research and combat ticks and tick-borne illness.
“This new partnership is another example of local governments working together to save taxpayer dollars and protect the public health of our residents,” said County Executive Bellone. “By taking collective action, we are expanding education, collection, and analysis to ensure that we have the information and resources at our disposal to deal with these illnesses head on.”
The new partnership enables towns and villages to strengthen their efforts to combat ticks, and the diseases they carry, in ways that were previously unattainable due to high cost and limited resources. The new partnership draws on efforts already underway by the Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee to research and combat ticks and associated illnesses. Each year approximately 650 Suffolk County residents contract a tick-borne illness including Lyme disease. These efforts include collecting data, cooperatively procure materials at lower costs, providing community education and tracking progress over time. All participating towns and villages are members of the Suffolk County Shared Services Initiative.
To date, eight villages and two towns will work in conjunction with the County that include:
- Town of Shelter Island
- Town of Southampton
- North Haven
- Old Field
- Belle Terre
- East Hampton
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services will provide resources and guidance. The County will facilitate testing of samples, collection of data and additional analysis. Potential savings will be realized through the cooperative procurement of corn, tickicide and other materials, as well as by municipalities working together to collect samples and have them analyzed at a cheaper rate.
The Suffolk County Department of Health Services and Suffolk County Department of Public Works Vector Control Unit will consult with villages launching their initial efforts at tick-mitigation, tick-borne illness mitigation, and deer mitigation. Potential mitigation efforts include municipalities sustaining a 4-poster (also known as a deer feeder); the use of environmental controls, such as landscaping; and the utilization of birth control. Additionally, all participating local governments will assist the Suffolk County Department of Health Services with community education regarding the risk of ticks and how to avoid bites, tick collection for testing, and health monitoring of residents.
The initial work of the partnership will support work that is currently underway in North Haven, Saltaire and Shelter Island to operate 4-posters that brush tickicide onto the deer to keep them free of ticks. North Haven and Shelter Island will also offer enhanced community education, and work to collect tick samples for testing. The Town of Southampton will be participating in research and testing of samples.
The shared services collaborative will also seek a third-party research partner to assist in the partnership’s efforts, through the request-for-proposal (RFP) process. A research partner could assist local governments with collection of data and review of mitigation methods. A key aspect of the partnership is that the strategies put in place will be uniquely crafted for each participating municipalities, as the municipality will be able to determine the best course of action for their communities.
Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming said: “Widespread participation in this groundbreaking cooperative project demonstrates the urgent need to arrive at effective methods to managing tick populations and combat tick-borne illness. The project will enhance Suffolk County’s commitment to tackling the devastating and far-reaching impacts of tick-borne disease for Suffolk families, and will provide a region-wide model for effective action.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said: “This collaborative effort is a positive step forward to combat tick borne illnesses. By working together we can share research and develop better ways to protect our residents.”
Village of Belle Terre Mayor Bob Sandak said: “Protecting public health is a priority for the Village of Belle Terre, and mitigating the risk of ticks and tick-borne illness is an important mission. Having the ability to work with other local governments and Suffolk County on this issue will give us the opportunity to address it effectively and affordably.”
Village of North Haven Mayor Jeffrey Sander said: “North Haven Village is proud to participate in the Suffolk County SuffolkSHARE Public Health Partnership. Tick-borne illness is a major health hazard in North Haven and the entire County. We are optimistic that this effort will contribute significantly toward combating this serious health issue in our Village.”
Village of Old Field Mayor Michael Levine said: “While tick-borne illnesses remain a major concern amongst our community, we continue to look for new and innovative ways to protect the publics’ health. Thanks to the work of County Executive Bellone and the creation of this new partnership, we will now be able to asses tick conditions, develop a comprehensive plan to combat this public health issues, and educate our residents on ways to stay safe.”
Village of Northport Deputy Mayor Thomas Kehoe said: “Long Island has a deer problem which also means we have a Tick Problem, and sharing taxpayer resources to combat Ticks and their accompanying diseases is our responsibility. Suffolk Shared Services is helping all of our Towns & Villages benefit from our collective wisdom and information on the Tick problem. Northport is pleased to work with our colleagues to curtail and contain Long Islands Tick problem.”