The Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health cites declining funding sources, lessening patient load and automation of patient records as the main reasons behind their decision to cut five administrative assistants.

The Board of Health request the State Personnel Board to approve the reduction in force for the Health Department’s clinic division. The request will probably be presented at the personnel board’s June meeting.

In a release to 13 News, a Health Department spokesman says for 2016-2017, the department’s budget was $3.8 million. The projected budget for 2017-2018 is $3.5 million.

During the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the health department saw a $410,000 reduction in state funding. This includes $306,000 to the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and $104,000 to the Putnam County Health Department, with whom KCHD has a management agreement.

Billing insurance companies for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, which became effective in June 2016 after the passage of SB 204, did not make up the money lost from the reduction to the state appropriation. KCHD projected approximately $100,000 in income. We only billed about $1,000. Our patients were unwilling or unable to provide insurance information. We are legally required to provide these services regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

KCHD generates income by providing large-scale, offsite clinics for flu vaccinations. These clinics are still part of our practice, but income from them has declined by 23 percent—from $334,000 to $221,000– over the past four years. We attribute this to the expansion of coverage by Medicaid and the widespread availability of flu shots in pharmacies and from other providers.

KCHD transitioned in February 2017 to an electronic health records system as required by the Affordable Care Act. This made the clinic’s registration and record-keeping process quicker and more efficient, streamlined billing and greatly reduced the need for clerical support.  This system cost approximately $33,000.

The reduction in force allows KCHD to avoid a $232,000 deficit for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The savings generated include $150,000 in salaries and $82,000 in benefits.

If the RIF is approved, it will be effective June 30.

 KCHD will continue to provide clinic services along with the services provided by our Environmental Division, Epidemiology and Threat Preparedness Division and Health Promotion Division.