Health dept. not hurt by cuts — yet

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series examining the impact of state budget cuts on public health agencies serving the Allen County area.

By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Register Reporter

Unlike other agencies which have had to reduce staff or services due to state budget cuts, the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department is in status quo mode.
The agency, which serves Allen, Bourbon, Anderson and Woodson counties, is in the midst of its fiscal year, which runs July 1 through June 30.
The agency received approximately 31 percent of its funding this year from the state, said Diane Bertone, administrator and advanced registered nurse practitioner. That money comes in the form of grants, which must be applied for each year, Bertone noted.
Grants funds, when received, are directed to programs only, and not into a general operating budget, Bertone said.
The health department receives grants for five programs.
Women, Infants and Children is a federal program which gives funds to states to support prenatal and early childhood nutritional health. WIC is offered only in Anderson and Woodson counties, Bertone said.
Family planning, immunization and maternal/child health are grant-funded programs wherein “all the grant (funds) apply to all four counties,” Bertone said. Public health preparedness receives funding from both the state and the federal governement.
Besides state and federal funds, the health department budget relies on fees, donations and insurance, Bertone said.
Total operating budget for the four-county region this year was $674,864, Bertone said.

WHEN IT comes to planning next year’s budget, there is little certainty, Bertone said, as “everything gets cuts every year.”
While funds are decreasing, she said user numbers are on the rise.
The growth was not unexpected, given the current economic climate.
“The economy is hurting and it hurts us, too,” Bertone said. “We’re seeing more people in need than we have in the past. There are more people who are unemployed, uninsured and underserved.”
In better times, Bertone acknowledged, such individuals have other sources of assistance, be it income or family help.
“We are in economic struggles here,” Bertone said of the region. “I’m just amazed how many people are calling us now.”
The agency has four full-time employees.