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Health officials deal with cuts

Like other local public agencies, the McDuffie County Health Department is facing the possibility of more state funding cuts over the next year.

Public Health already took a 3 percent cut -- which amounted to around $6,000 -- earlier this year, and according to some local health leaders, state officials are again eyeing local health departments across the state for a relief.

As a result of the earlier cut, the Health Department did cut personnel earlier this year, but Nurses Manager Virginia Bradshaw said she won't know for sure if further cuts are needed until later this year.

"Right now I don't anticipate any more personnel cuts, though we have done that this year already," she said. "I'm going to have to wait until July gets here. I just don't know how much is going to be cut."

At the recent quarterly Board of Health meeting, local officials speculated about the size of the two cuts that are rumored to be on their way. One will most likely affect fiscal year 2004, while the subsequent cut will most likely take place in FY2005. The cuts have been rumored to be anything from 5 percent to 7 percent.

"It makes it quite difficult to plan," said District Health Director Frank Rumph of the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming budget.

On top of the falling funds, the Health Department is actually on pace to treat more patients than it did last year. During October, November, and December of 2002, there were 2,712 total visits. During those same months in 2003, there were 2,732 total visits.

The cuts to Public Health are the result of a larger cut to the Department of Human Resources, which oversees Public Health. During the board meeting, officials questioned why Public Health had been singled out for some of the cuts.

Dr. Rumph said the problem may lie in the philosophy that only in departments where there are issues should cuts not take place.

"If you have a problem, you take the money and put it where the problem is," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, January 29, 2004

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