A number of service areas in the Department will be affected:
- The largest impact relates to a set of integrated services designed to support mothers having healthy babies, preventing low birth weight births by screening at-risk mothers and supporting their prenatal care to improve birth outcomes. These services include: family case management and intensive prenatal case management programs.
- Services to at risk teenagers including: teen parent services, alcohol and drug prevention and the safety network (middle school anti-bullying),
- Clinic-based and screening services including: women’s health and school linked health services, audio-visual, and oral health screenings/sealants for school-aged children,
- Environmental health services including: West Nile virus surveillance, lead safe homes and weed and seed services to targeted neighborhoods,
- Other service impacts include: bioterrorism funding and Ryan White outpatient health care services for those with AIDS.
These cuts mean that WCHD has or will cease to provide certain services including weed and seed services (October 2011), teen parent services (July 2011) and lead safe homes (January 2011).
Other services will continue, but with reduced staffing and capacity to carry caseload levels and frequency of visits as a result of staffing reductions. We will begin this coming fiscal year with approximately 22 FTEs less than FY 2011. This is happening through a combination of layoffs, retirements, and not filling vacant positions.
Over the past two years, we have taken a number of steps to streamline services and to more completely integrate staffing. This was enabled through consolidating three separate Health Department service locations into a renovated facility, in partnership with Winnebago County, at 555 North Court Street. The main office at 401 Division Street also continues to be the other primary service location. Without this consolidation and integration effort, service impact and staffing changes would have been deeper.
“Even in this budget crisis, cutting preventive health services that serve the most vulnerable of our community, who have even greater needs during these difficult times, makes no sense”, said Mike Bacon, Public Health Administrator. “These programs are not only worthwhile, but are successful, efficient and yield a return on investment and prevent the need for further spending down the road,” Bacon added.
This is the first time, in the history of the WCHD, we are having this large of a staff reduction. It saddens me greatly, to lose these dedicated staff members who are a vital part of a strong set of preventive health services and who have served our community with great skill and caring. WCHD is not alone. This week the National Association of City and County Health Officials released its latest job-loss nationwide summary. This report indicates in Illinois over one-half to three-quarters of local health departments are faced with similar scenarios.
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