As we fast approach our Public Hearing date of Monday, March 25th we want to clarify a few items. We have had so many people asking us to explain all that is going on. Many people have not realized that there are two different Health Departments in Red Willow County. While we are both "Health Departments," each of us has had a different focus.
We are the Red Willow County Health Department. We are located in the Ag Complex on the fairgrounds.
The public voted us in in 1974. Our focus has always been the actual hands on care i.e. giving immunizations, monitoring blood pressures, providing foot care, making well baby visits, doing lab screenings, helping with school health screenings, performing day care provider physicals and many other services. We have an average of over 20 years of experience each, and have kept current with the health changes and requirements over these years. We have served thousands of people ranging in age from newborns to the very elderly.
We have been told that the reason for the "termination" of our Health Department is all about the money and the County's effort to trim their budget. To our knowledge we have not done anything wrong and we have always been very careful about how we spend your tax dollars and have finished each year under our projected budget. We have presented to the commissioners ways we might be able to lower our budget and increase our revenue while still maintaining our services for the people who depend upon us.
Looking at Red Willow County's overall budget, which for the year 2012-13 was proposed at $24,102,000. (according to their website), our health department's $283,000 budget is minimal. After factoring in our revenue, the actual budgeted cost to the county for 2010-2011 was $122,000 and for 2011-2012 it was $126,000. Granted there is an additional expense to the county in health insurance premiums, which is not included in our budget, however, our department is now down to one full time employee receiving health care benefits. Surely in a budget as large as the county's, there must be some other places to trim costs to allow our health department to continue.
Lastly the Gazette keeps referring to a "merger." Unless they know something that we don't, this is NOT a merger. This is the CLOSING of the Red Willow Co Health Department and our services. We are not being merged with anyone. The commissioners are hopeful that our services will be picked up by other entities in our community.
According to Brian Rokusek, office manager at the McCook Clinic, "Access is key to health care, especially when it comes to prevention." By closing the County Health Department, a health care provider which has been used by thousands of people over the past 38 years will be eliminated, thus decreasing the overall health and well being of the people of our area.
In closing, we are passionate about the work we do, but this is not about us keeping our jobs. It is about the people we serve and their over-all health and well being. Thank you to all who have supported us over the years. We are not public speakers, politicians or even newspaper writers. We are health care providers and we hope that after next Monday's Public Hearing, we will be able to just get back to doing our jobs and caring for the people of Red Willow County.
Pam Klug, R.N.
Peggy Everitt, R.N.
and Office Manager