OKLAHOMA CITY – About 12 percent of the state health department workforce will be cut by early next year.
So how could this affect Oklahoma City residents?
Layoffs and furloughs for employees are being blamed on budget cuts for the agency, topping at $10 million dollars.
250 out of 2,100 employees will be laid off.
The majority of those cuts will be in the community and family health services.
And even though the Oklahoma City-County Health Department is independently run, they’re anticipating the trickle-down effects.
“If Children’s first health program is a state funded program and if the state health department cuts those funds, then that would mean fewer nurses for us and the people of Oklahoma County,” said Gary Cox, executive director of the OKC-County Health Department.
It will take more than a month to find out who will be cut, but rural areas may feel the impact the most.
“It sounds like the cut backs will be primarily at the county health departments,” Cox said. “So the less folks and the less service they have there, it could mean that people will drive more into the metro areas to receive their service and that’s of course a longer drive for them.”
For now, the OKC-County Health Department is bracing for the additional strain on their resources but are still willing to help.
“We could see more folks as a result but you know, we’re prepared to take any additional patients that come our way,” Cox said.
The state department requested the county health departments pay for STD lab testing and medication.
It would cost the Oklahoma City-County Health Department more than $860,000.
A cost that had been paid for with federal and state funds.