Wednesday, September 23, 2009
sponsored by Graue Inc.

Local health departments lose 8,000 more jobs in 1st half of 2009

Logan County Department of Public Health also forced to cut jobs

Send a link to a friend

[September 23, 2009]  WASHINGTON -- Local health departments -- the public agencies that work on the ground to safeguard their communities against the H1N1 flu virus and other threats to public health -- sustained accelerated job losses during the first half of 2009, a new survey shows. Because of budget-related cuts, city, county and other local health departments eliminated 8,000 staff positions between January and June, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

This loss compounds the disappearance of 7,000 positions in 2008, determined by a previous survey by the association, the results of which were announced in January. Departments lost more jobs in the first six months of 2009 than in all of 2008.

The losses hit the field just as local health departments have been gearing up for what may be their most intense flu season in recent history. Beginning in October, departments will support, coordinate and conduct communitywide immunization campaigns against the highly contagious H1N1 virus, while also immunizing residents against seasonal flu. Health departments also have a host of related responsibilities, including monitoring the course of the epidemic; working with schools, businesses and other local agencies to mitigate the spread of influenza; collaborating with local health care providers to manage a potential surge in demand for medical care; and keeping the public well-informed.

"Local health departments will do the best job they can with the resources available to them to protect Americans from the H1N1 flu and continue their daily activities to address other public health threats," said Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. "They have used currently available federal funds for pandemic influenza preparedness well and are working extraordinarily hard to adapt and respond to the evolving epidemic. However, these data demonstrate that the economic strains on local and state government budgets are reducing public health resources at a time when a stable public health system is greatly needed."

Of interest locally, the Logan County Department of Public Health laid off four employees in July due to delayed reimbursements from the state of Illinois, a delay in grants contracts for state fiscal year 2010 and the added $200,000 in expenses the county passed on to the department in 2009. Laid off were one public health nurse, one health educator and two clerks. Additional cuts in funding or any increase in grant reimbursement delays will result in the loss of essential public health services.

[to top of second column]

Auto Sales

The survey found that layoffs accounted for about three in eight positions lost in early 2009, while attrition accounted for the remainder. Besides the 8,000-person drop in positions, health departments cut the hours of another 3,000 employees and placed 9,000 on mandatory furloughs. In all, about 20,000 local public health positions have been affected by cutbacks this year. Slightly more than half of the departments surveyed sustained staff losses.

Furthermore, half of the local departments surveyed anticipate budget reductions in fiscal 2010. Between July 2008 and June 2009, 55 percent of the departments were forced to cut programs in such areas such as maternal and child health, emergency preparedness, and environmental health.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials is the organization representing the nation's 2,800 local health departments. These agencies work every day on the front lines to protect and promote the health of their communities. The association develops resources and programs and promotes national policies that support effective local public health practice.

[Text from file received from Mark Hilliard, Logan County Department of Public Health]

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor