As a result of funding cuts, including an 11% direct cut to its budget, the Calvert County Health Department has laid off five counseling staff members. As reported on Southern Maryland Newspapers Online:
“Local health departments receive less funding now than they did in 2000,” Polsky said.
Even though health departments have mandates for health inspections and other work, funding continues to drop. The Calvert County Health Department receives funding from state, federal and local sources. Polsky said he won’t ask for additional funding from the county until more information is gleaned about the state’s fiscal 2016 budget.
One of the ways the health department is striving to be more efficient is by merging mental health counseling and substance abuse counseling into one entity known as behavioral health. Under the merger, there will be four locations to receive both mental health and substance abuse counseling, rather than three sites available for substance abuse and one for mental health offered previously. There will be no decrease in the services offered or a dropoff in the appointments available, Polsky said.
Each addiction counselor has an average caseload of 30 people, Loving said. By laying off five counselors, other employees will have to absorb the burden of more than 100 clients.
Amid tough financial years local health departments have been forced to increase efficiency with decreased resources, while continuing to brace for potential future cuts.
For more information read the full article on Southern Maryland Newspapers Online.