CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The commissioner for the state Bureau for Public Health said her agency, which is supposed to monitor local health departments, plans to pay closer attention to the Putnam County Health Department as it struggles to pay its bills.
"There had been rumblings for a while," Dr. Marian Swinker said about the financial problems the Putnam agency is facing.
According to West Virginia law, one of the duties of the Bureau for Public Health commissioner is "to monitor the administration, operation and coordination of the local board of health and local health officers."
Swinker said the bureau has been monitoring Putnam, but foresees a closer look will be taken, as the state agency is required to monitor how Putnam spends its state-allocated funds.
"We will be looking at them more closely," she said. "With all we know now <t40>...<t$> it will probably result in increased scrutiny."
The Putnam Health Department withdrew its application for $186,000 from the local board of health emergency fund through the state Department of Health and Human Resources. The state asked the department to submit more information regarding its application by May 15 -- a deadline that county commissioner and Putnam County Board of Health member Joe Haynes said couldn't be met.
Part of the emergency application process is to come up with a plan to correct the problem, according to Swinker.
"We wouldn't just give money to someone to keep doing the things they're doing," she said.
The last opportunity to apply for emergency funds this fiscal year was May 15. The Putnam board could reapply July 1, she said.
For fiscal year 2013, the state Division of Local Health had $332,850 -- or 2 percent of its state funds -- set aside as emergency funds, according to its funding distribution statement.
An emergency fund review committee, made up of representatives from local health departments and officials from the Bureau for Public Health, considers emergency funding applications, according to a spokeswoman with the DHHR.
Swinker said Putnam's was the only local health board to have applied for emergency funding this fiscal year.