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More than Half of Local Health Departments Cut Services in First Half of 2011


Contact Becky Wexler
(301) 652-1558

More than Half of Local Health Departments Cut Services in First Half of 2011

New survey confirms budget cuts and job losses continue to undermine local public health departments

Washington, DC (October 4, 2011) – According to the results of a new survey released by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), from July 2010 to June 2011, more than half (55 percent) of all local health departments reduced or eliminated at least one program, with services for mothers and children among the hardest hit. Other areas experiencing significant reductions included those designed to protect Americans and keep them safe, including emergency preparedness, immunizations, chronic disease screening, and personal health services such as home health care and mental health services.

Job loss continues.  From January-June 2011, more than four out of every 10 (43 percent) local health departments lost at least one employee, as they collectively shed 5,400 jobs.  Factoring in reduced hours and mandatory furloughs brought the percentage of local health departments experiencing some type of negative job impact to 52 percent, equal to the percentage of local health departments reporting negative job impact during the full year prior (2010). Since 2008, local health departments have lost a total of 34,400 out of a total 155,000 jobs due to layoffs and attrition.

“Local health departments have been operating on leaner budgets and fewer staff since 2008,” said Robert M. Pestronk, NACCHO’s executive director. “Fewer staff means a loss of key protections for you and me. But with the loss also comes resourcefulness and innovating ways to make the most of the staff and funding that remain.”

For example, in response to losing millions in their budget and eliminating 20 staff positions, Coconino Public Health Services District in Arizona took advantage of a recently-passed statute and became its own tax district in 2010. The health department now has a dedicated, stable funding source and health officials can target funding at local priorities.

The Huron County Health District in Ohio has implemented a series of efficiencies, including inventory management, resource allocation, and new financial tracking systems as they work to revamp their programs and services to be more self sustaining. Employees are conceiving new ways to conserve resources while still meeting community needs.

Learn more about the Local Health Departments Job Losses and Program Cuts: Findings from July 2011 Survey at www.naccho.org/jobloss.

Follow news about budget cuts and job losses in local health departments across the country at www.naccho.org/newsmap

About the National Association of County and City Health Officials
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.