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Putnam health chief hopes to be in new location by Sept.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Health Department might have a new permanent home by September.

Administrator Lolita Kirk said at a meeting of the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health that she's considering a few locations for the Putnam department but that plans are not official yet.

Kirk is an employee of the Kanawha-Charleston department and was assigned last month to lead the Putnam agency as it works through financial problems and a state audit.

In the meantime, the Putnam department likely will move temporarily into a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources building in Winfield.

"They've been kind enough to award us a few cubicles and some areas to see patients," Kirk said, adding that the agreement has not yet been finalized.

Once Putnam health officials are in the DHHR office, she said, they will offer patients clinical services.

Earlier this month, the Putnam County Health Board voted to transfer control of clinical services for the county's health department to the Kanawha-Charleston department. The Putnam health board previously had voted to lay off its 12-member staff because of its financial woes. The department owes $200,000 and needed more than $100,000 to operate. It has moved from its former location in Scott Depot.

Kanawha-Charleston has had a full-time sanitarian working in Putnam County since July 1, Kirk said. Another contracted sanitarian is working on weekends in Putnam, she said.

The full-time sanitarian, Keith Lyons, is working out of the Putnam County Courthouse, Kirk said.

She said the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has seen more Putnam County patients lately.

"[We're] seeing three times as many patients from Putnam County this month than we did, say, in May, when they were still open," Kirk said.

Three health-care facilities in Putnam County also have offered to see patients for the health department for the time being, she said.

Kirk said Putnam residents soon would be able to reach the health department by calling the former office's phone number, 304-757-2541. So far, there have been glitches that kept that phone number from ringing through to the Kanawha-Charleston department. Kirk hopes to have the phone issues worked out in the next day or so.

Putnam residents also may call the Kanawha-Charleston department directly, at 304-344-KCHD.

Once the Putnam health department has a permanent location, Kirk said, she wants health officials there to be more involved in the community.

"We [at Kanawha-Charleston] do a lot of health fairs," Kirk said. "We want to do the same thing there."

In other business:

• The Kanawha-Charleston department is the recipient of the Dr. Marie Fallon Leadership Award from the National Association of Local Boards of Health.

• The Kanawha health board unanimously re-elected Brenda Isaac to board president.

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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