"They did not have another meeting scheduled for several weeks, but I have requested they hold an emergency meeting," Kirk said. "They have indicated they would ... try to hold an emergency meeting to assist us."
Personnel's board members are being polled to see if that's possible, she said.
The Board of Health hopes 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. The board and Kirk will need to find a space for the health department in Putnam County before July 1, but Kirk said that once a space is acquired, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department would have no problem providing Putnam with services.
"There's no reason we can't, if we can find an exam room," she said of Kanawha's health department. "We're very good at taking our show on the road, so to speak. We provide vaccines all over Kanawha County, to every office there is. Even if we can't find an exam room that accommodates us, we're willing to set up wherever."
Kirk and the Putnam health board members do not anticipate an interruption in services, although the county currently does not have access to private supplies of vaccines, and patients relying on insurance can't obtain certain vaccinations at the Putnam County Health Department.
"We can still provide vaccines for people who are what we call 'vaccines for children' eligible," Kirk said. "That is for kids who have CHIP or Medicaid or no insurance. They can still come in and get vaccines, but a lot of the private vaccines have gone away."
The agency's financial problems stem from less revenue than anticipated when the health department moved to its current location several years ago, as well as more than $100,000 in legal bills it has paid to defend itself in two recent wrongful-termination grievances.
The health department lost both grievance lawsuits and was ordered to reinstate and provide back pay to the employee involved in both grievances. The Putnam Health Department paid Charleston attorney Karen Miller more than $100,000 in legal fees and still owes her more than $20,000.
If the state approves the plan, any employees laid off by the Putnam Health Department would rise to the top of the state's civil service registry, which will give them preference with other state agencies that are hiring.
"They will go to the top of the list for hiring in any of those agencies, including Kanawha-Charleston, including the DHHR," Kirk said. "Any of the state agencies will give them preferential treatment."
The contract between the Putnam County Health Department and the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will last six months. At the end of the six-month period, the board will vote on whether it should be renewed.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.