SCOTT DEPOT, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Board of Health discussed laying off the entire staff for the county's health department during an emergency meeting Friday.
The health board, however, didn't have a quorum of its members to vote on that proposal.
Board members proposed giving the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department control of the agency's clinical services while allowing the Putnam board to retain control of all other aspects of the Putnam department.
The agency employs 13 full-time staff members and one part-time worker, and, according to Putnam health department interim administrator Lolita Kirk, while some of those employees might be rehired by the agency, it is unlikely that every position will be re-established in the foreseeable future.
"We, as a board of health, have to consider what's best for the residents of Putnam County," said board member Joe Haynes. "At least in my opinion -- and I think the board will back me up -- this is in the best interest of Putnam County."
A financial evaluation of the Putnam health department showed that the agency owes more than $200,000 to vendors for rent and other expenses, as well as an additional $100,000 by July to meet current operating expenses.
Kirk, a Kanawha-Charleston Health Department administrator appointed June 13 to advise the board about stabilizing its finances, said the financial insolvency of the agency is too serious to consider even a partial reduction in staff.
"I told the board that, while they could consider a partial reduction in force to try to maintain what they were currently doing, they were not going to be able to maintain it for very long -- even if they went to a 50 percent reduction in staff," she said. "Once you do that, you're talking about a reduction in services."
Regardless of its debt, the agency is still projected to fall $30,000 short on its current obligations by July 1, the start of a new payroll period.
Agency officials called an emergency meeting to vote on the proposal and attempt to complete the process before July 1. The Putnam health department will have to find a new office and trim its staff before the end of the month.