Officials at the Mississippi Department of Health are in the midst of reorganizing the agency. Every area is on the table including jobs.
In a video for Mississippi Department of Health employees only, State Health Officer, Dr. Mary Currier talks about restructuring the agency because of budget cuts. Spokesperson Liz Sharlot wouldn't release the video, but talked about the issue. She says their budget for 2018 which begins July 1, is $24.6 million, a reduction of more than 32 percent from last year. To reduce administrative costs Sharlot says they're combining agency departments and consolidating nine health districts into three.
"All of these regions basically have the same amount of counties, the same amount of population. We took a look at again population size, geography and public health indicators, such as teen pregnancy rates," said Sharlot
Sharlot says the department's mission is to promote and protect public health. That includes responding to natural disasters, tracking diseases such as Tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections to inspecting daycare facilities, nursing homes and restaurants. There will be layoffs but they hope to minimize the impact. Roy Mitchell is with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
"There seems to be a political assault on healthcare in this country and now we're seeing it in our own back yard. This health department is the first line of defense in terms of fighting chronic disease," said Mitchell.
State lawmakers cut agency budgets across the board for 2018, due to lower than project revenues. Liz Sharlot says the state provides 10 percent of the health department's budget. Ninety percent comes from the federal government.