Director of Public Health for San Bernardino County, Jim Lindley, said that the budget crunch has forced a number of adjustments.
“We are forced to do more with less. Eventually we are going to have to do less with less,” Lindley said.
The Public Health Department is funded by state and government grants. Programs and jobs dependent on grant money will eventually end, Lindley stated.
Lindley claimed that the state handed down a decision last week saying it will no longer fund community-based services as of July 1, 2010.
This will affect cities and counties greatly, as the state has always funded these services.
The county has faced a hiring freeze for the past two years that has enabled many critical jobs to remain intact. Chief Administrative Officer, Mark Uffer, has put a no layoff policy in place. Because of this, many employees who would have been laid off, have come over to the Public Health Department, Lindley said.
“The county has gone from 1,100 employees to 900 in this period,” Lindley stated.
Lindley commented that managing the public health department is much like managing a city. “The title public health does not do justice. We have to know a lot about a lot of things,” Lindley said.
One of the things Lindley has been forced to face on a daily basis is the subject of the H1N1 virus.
San Bernardino County recently conducted a program to test their efficiency during a pandemic such as this. The H1N1 virus has taken seven lives in San Bernardino County.
“We have held pandemic planning summits with 24 cities and towns to see how to handle a situation like this,” Lindley said.
Lindley said a staff of 14 was able to vaccinate between 7oo to 800 people in an hour with the common flu shot.
“The goal was to see how many people we could put through in a period of time if there was an emergency situation,” Lindley said.
There is no word on the amount of, or the timing of, when the county will receive the vaccination. But Lindley said he feels confident knowing they can handle the situation.
Louis Dettorre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org