The Mississippi Department of Health says it's making plans to reorganize in the wake of deep cuts in state funds. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, the agency says jobs cuts are expected.
The current mission of the state health department is to streamline the agency, while assuring core public health services. Spokesperson Liz Sharlot says the legislature allocated $24.8 million to run the department in the next budget year starting July 1st. That's a 32% cut compared to last year.
"We have to look at doing things differently. We have to have a business model. We have to align our funding streams, and operate like a lean, mean machine, while assuring those core public health services."
Sharlot says the goal is to reduce administrative costs, consolidate internal programs, and reduce building space. One part of the plan is to reduce the number of public health districts in the state from nine to three, cut health officers, and re-evaluate field staff. She says it's still unclear how many of the more than 1,800 state health department jobs will be lost, but there will be a reduction in workforce.
"We are hoping with retirements, and positions that we have not filled in the last few years that we can keep the number down. We won't know that until the State Personnel Board approves our plan."
Sharlot says two programs that could be cut: childhood immunizations and childhood health screenings. There are no plans to close health clinics. She says the agency hopes to submit its plan to the State Personnel Board by mid-June.