Thursday, February 7, 2019

Putnam Health Board Members Lay off Staff

Putnam Health Board Members Lay off Staff



SCOTT DEPOT - The Putnam County Board of Health voted unanimously to lay off its entire staff Monday, pending approval from the state's Division of Personnel.



The decision came during the continuation of an emergency meeting from Friday and is a result of the health department's recent financial struggles. According to senior interim Administrator Lolita Kirk, Putnam's Health Department owes more than $215,000 to vendors, vaccine distributors and for rent.

Because of the fiscal troubles, Kirk hopes the Board of Health does not have to pay all the Putnam Health Department employees beyond the pay period that ends June 30.

County health officials also hope to have the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department take care of the county's health services to avoid further insolvency. Still, that depends on the Division of Personnel's decision.

"The debt is more than what I thought," Kirk said. "The invoices are at about $215,000, and every day is another invoice rolling in."

Kirk, an administrator for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said the Putnam health board would still have the power to make decisions regarding its staff and funds, and Kanawha- Charleston will provide health services for county residents using the money the state gives the Putnam Health Department, which totals roughly $414,000.

"Kanawha-Charleston will provide public health services for Putnam County, in Putnam County," said board member Joe Haynes, also the Putnam County Commission president. "We want it to be clear that those services will be provided here, not that folks in Putnam County will have to go to Charleston."

The decision will affect the Putnam Health Department's 12 full- time and two part-time staff positions.

According to Kirk, if the plan goes into effect, Kanawha- Charleston will require at least six full-time employees and two sanitarians to perform local health inspections. Additionally, employees from the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department may provide supplemental services.

The Putnam employees who are being laid off will be able to apply for these positions, Kirk said.

"The Putnam County Board of Health will still make policy for the county," Haynes said. "Kanawha-Charleston will make policy for Kanawha County, [and] we will make policy for Putnam County. This is strictly contracting services."

Kirk, who was appointed during an emergency meeting June 13 to help the board get relief from its financial problems, has requested that the state Division of Personnel board hold its own emergency meeting to address the issues facing Putnam's Health Department.



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