CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The head of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health says she needs "further discussions" Kanawha-Charleston health officials before giving the financially troubled Putnam County Health Department a federal grant for emergency preparedness.
Because of debt woes, the Putnam County Health Department laid off its entire staff earlier this year and contracted with the Kanawha-Charleston agency to provide services.
"DHHR's process for preparedness grants is the same for all county health departments," Joyce Spiroff, acting commissioner for the bureau, said in a prepared statement issued Friday evening. "Because the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has taken the responsibility to provide services to Putnam County, the grant approval requirements remain the same; however, with the new oversight by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, further discussions are necessary to ensure we meet all federal guidelines for the distribution of funds."
After Kanawha-Charleston meets the federal requirements, it will be given the grant money, Spiroff wrote. She added that the DHHR has made "repeated attempts" to discuss the issue with Kanawha-Charleston health officials.
"We welcome a discussion with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department so it will be able to serve the preparedness needs of Putnam County," she said. "In the meantime, there is a state process to assist counties in the event of a county-declared emergency."
Spiroff's statement was sent to the Gazette shortly before 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, health officer for Kanawha-Charleston, told the Gazette last week that Putnam County had yet to receive nearly $100,000 in federal funds from DHHR for threat preparedness. The lapse in funding could have been due to an ongoing federal investigation into the Putnam agency, Gupta told the Gazette.
The federal threat preparedness grant covers public health emergencies like influenza pandemics, natural disasters and industrial accidents, Gupta said.Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.