Jackson Co. Health Dept. to reduce hours after budget constraints

Published: Sep. 4, 2015 at 2:15 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2015 at 8:54 PM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - The Jackson County Health Department announced it will reduce its hours and cease operations on Fridays.

According to the health department, this decision is a direct result of financial pressures faced by the organization, including a lack of an adopted state budget.

Starting Dec. 1, 2015, the department will be open weekly Monday through Thursday and will be closed on Fridays.

Full-time employees face a two hour per week reduction, going from 35 hours to 33 hours each week. These employees will face about a 6 percent pay cut.

The facility will be open longer hours on Monday and Thursday, however, those times have not yet been determined.

According to the health department, this was the best option. It considered other options including employee layoffs and elimination of some public health programs.

It's a decision administrator Miriam Link-Mullison says, is a tough one.

"As I said we want to be a health department that provides five days of quality services," Link- Mullison said. "With the money we've currently been given and the expenses we face…we can't be that health department and that's sad to me."

Link-Mullison says many local health departments throughout the state are facing a difficult time with the budget impasse.

"Local health departments have not received their state money," Link Mullison said. "Lots of other people have received their state money even though there's not a state budget. Local health departments have not."

Link-Mullison says the department has gotten some of its federal money, but not state money and is uncertain of when that will be.

"When are we going to get our state money," Link-Mullison asked. "Who knows, no one knows and when we do get it, is there going to be money left to pay? What is going to be the amount? Because not only are we facing the uncertainty of not knowing when we'll be getting the money. In some of our grant lines, we don't know how much we're getting."

The reduction on operating hours and staff work schedules allows the department to save more money than the other options considered, and allows valued programs, such as WIC and Family Planning, to continue.

The department reports it has faced very tight budgets for about seven years due to various issues, including elimination, reduction and stagnation in various revenue sources, including grants and property tax dollars.

The health department says it was faced with picking up an additional $800,000 in benefit costs, including employee retirement and health insurance costs.

The public health staff has been cut by about 20 percent through attrition since 2008.

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