Health News Florida is reporting that the state’s health department has released information that shows local health departments have suffered significant layoffs and service cuts due to the state’s budget cuts for public health.
Health News reports:
Some counties are laying off a dozen or more employees, while others are not eliminating personnel at all, instead ending certain services, such as flu clinics. The lists – one for state employees, the other for those on temporary contracts – don’t include some counties, since they reflect layoffs of personnel accomplished or identified as of Aug. 10.
The biggest change, at least on paper, appears to be at Hillsborough County Health Department, which is losing more than 100 employees on Sept. 1. But the patients and employees really aren’t taking a hit at all, the department says.
Not all counties are making cuts without layoffs, as the lists show. After Hillsborough, the counties with the highest number of employee reductions reported as of Aug. 10 were Osceola, Marion and Broward.
As the Sun-Sentinel reported Tuesday, at least 60 people in the Broward and Palm Beach health departments face layoffs, most of them in Broward. Collier County is laying off 25 employees as of next Monday, the Naples News reported today. An additional 26 positions were eliminated.
In total, Florida’s Department of Health “took a total budget reduction of $55.6 million during the legislative session,” Health News reports. A spokesperson for the state health agency says that it will be “eliminating 229 full-time job positions, of which 172 are from county health departments.”
According to a breakdown of the agency’s state budget reductions, county health departments suffered a $30 million budget cut statewide.
County health departments provide a wide range of services, including nutrition assistance, breast and cervical cancer detection programs, child health programs, care for patients with diabetes, family planning services, HIV/AIDS prevention, and immunizations.
Children’s medical services were cut by about $2.5 million.
The breakdown provided by Health News also shows that almost $5 million was cut from the Area Health Education Centers network. According to a Department of Health website, these centers provide “a variety of programs designed to promote preventive health, wellness, and improved access to health care in medically underserved communities”:
The Programs recruit health professionals to practice in medically underserved communities, and arrange for clinical rotations of medical students and resident, and other health professions interns and students at county health department, community health centers, migrant clinics, and at other community-based primary care clinics.
The breakdown also mentions the $5.4 million cut to Healthy Start Coalitions and the almost $1 million cut to family planning services in the state.