New office hours are now in place at the McDuffie County Health Department.
The new hours, which took effect on Wednesday, will now have the office being opened on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Each Tuesday, the office will be open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. And on Fridays, the office will open at 8 a.m. and close at 2 p.m.
Members of the McDuffie County Health Board unanimously adopted the new office hours during their monthly meeting last Thursday. Virginia Bradshaw, who serves as administrator facilitator of the local health department, recommended the new office hours after discussing the idea with staff personnel.
Mrs. Bradshaw explained that since the health department operates under such a tight budget that cutting back by three hours on Fridays "will help."
"I think this is a good schedule," said McDuffie County Health Department Vice-Chairwoman Nettie Robinson before she and Mark Petersen made motions favoring the new office hours. Other board members voting to approve the measure included Alton Belton and Robin Dudley, who serves as chairwoman. Two board members, Charlie Newton and Joanette Terry, were absent.
She also noted that her office continues to be plagued by "no-show" problems, despite office staff calling to remind clients of appointments they have the next day.
"The no-show rate is just outrageous," Mrs. Bradshaw said. "It's about 60 percent across the board. That's been a real problem, getting people to come in."
In discussing the budget, John Nolan, deputy director of the East Central Health District, said the past fiscal year, which ended in June, was one of the toughest financial years for the department in recent memory.
He noted that the local health department received an extra $4,276 from the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners which allowed the department to balance their budget.
"Everything balanced and that was a good thing," Mr. Nolan said.
Across Georgia, health departments have had to scale back on staff because of budget cuts. Locally, the situation has been the same, according to officials.
Mr. Nolan also pointed out that WIC funding will be increased this fiscal year.
The federally-funded program assists pregnant women with vouchers to purchase certain nutritional food items and milk. The program is aimed at creating healthier babies for persons whose annual income qualifies them to receive such assistance.
"That's a nice surprise," Mrs. Dudley said.
"We welcome any money we can get back from WIC," Mrs. Bradshaw added, noting that the program is "wonderful" for clients.
As a new school year draws closer, Dr. Malcolm Page of the East Central Health District, emphasized the importance of parents getting their children immunized with all of the up-to-date shots they are required to have before returning back to school.
The immunization program "has been going very well," Dr. Page said.
Mrs. Bradshaw said school nurses in the McDuffie County School System have been working closely with health department nurses on the immunization program.
"They've been working and partnering with us," Mrs. Bradshaw said.
Anyone needing assistance about the school-age immunization is asked to contact the McDuffie County Health Department at (706)-595-1740.