The programs within the department are described below:
Food Establishment Inspections:
Unannounced compliance inspections are conducted for locations that provide food to the public. When violations of State Health laws and City ordinances are identified most are corrected on site by management during the inspection. If additional time is needed, the department conducts follow-up inspections to verify the items are corrected. Enforcement actions are taken when voluntary compliance is not achieved.
The Environmental Health Department investigates citizen complaints daily. An average of 90 complaints are investigated, corrected and closed by this department each month. When unsanitary conditions are corrected, citizens are protected from the potential spread of communicable diseases.
Weather is a key element to the size of the mosquito population in our community each spring and summer. To minimize the aggravation and reduce the risk of exposure to mosquito borne diseases, like West Nile Virus, the department conducts larviciding activities and a space-spraying program. These activities attempt to minimize the number of adult mosquitoes. The department continued participation in the statewide surveillance program for West Nile Virus by collecting mosquitoes for testing.
Public Swimming Pool Inspection:
Routine inspections on pools and spas open to the public are conducted to document compliance with the standards set forth in State law. If disinfectant levels and pool chemistry are not adequate there is increased risk of disease transmission.
On-site Sewage Facilities:
In areas within Amarillo where there is no public sewage system and in both Potter and Randall Counties, this department permits and inspects septic systems.
Hazard Communication Audits:
Our department audits City departments to evaluate the level of compliance with the Texas Hazard Communication Act. We are a reference department for City departments that have questions or need specific training or information. We provide training to City supervisors to educate them how to comply with this State law. This law also provides details to the Fire Department so they can pre-plan for fires and chemical emergencies.
Weapons of Mass Destruction and Bioterrorism:
The Health Authority for the Amarillo-Bi-City-County Health District continues planning for occurrence of these terrorist acts. The preparation involves coordinating the requirements of the Metropolitan Medical Response System. The primary focus of the MMRS program is to develop or enhance existing emergency preparedness systems to effectively respond to a public health crisis, especially a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) event. Through preparation and coordination, local law enforcement, fire, hazmat, emergency medical services, hospitals, public health, and other “first response” personnel plan to more effectively respond in the first 48 hours of a public health crisis. The Environmental Health Department received assignments onto subcommittees and received training in the National Incident Management System to prepare to manage a bioterrorism attack. The department is participating in plan development and is the Community Services Division/Health District representative for the administrative terrorism strike team.