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Kanawha health officials outline savings for Putnam department

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Health Department will spend 40 percent less money than last year, now that it's contracted with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department for clinical services, health officials said Thursday.

"We're on track to have about 40 percent budgetary savings for them for the year compared to last year," Dr. Rahul Gupta, health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said at a meeting of the Kanawha-Charleston health board Thursday afternoon. "So not only are we providing more services there in the community, but we're also saving them significant amounts of money."

Following financial problems, the Putnam health agency contracted with Kanawha-Charleston for clinical services. The board also laid off the department's 12-member staff and vacated its previous location to deal with more than $400,000 in debt.

The Putnam County Health Department opened Monday at a new location, 3282 Winfield Road in Winfield.

"The first day they saw 10 patients," said Lolita Kirk, administrator for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and interim administrator in Putnam County. "I'm sure it's picked up a little bit [since then]. That's not bad for a first day, just unlocking the door and people that knew we were there just coming in."

The new building costs much less to rent than the health department's former location, she said.

Rent for the new building is $1,600 a month. The old location, with utilities, cost between $11,000 and $13,000 a month, Kirk said.

In other business, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Board voted to give Gupta a 3 percent raise and a $5,000 bonus. The vote came after an annual evaluation of the health officer's job performance.

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


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