Sequester Budget Cuts May Affect Local Health Department

Sequester Budget Cuts May Affect Local Health Department

Josh Navarro
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The sequester budget cuts are beginning to hit close to home. Officials with the Ector County Health Department say they've already seen a decrease in federal funding and are worried about it happening again.

In the department's 2011 annual report, it includes that year's budget and it shows how much money the department received from state funding grants. The director says they've already received a 27% decrease in funding compared to their 2010 report and more cuts could possibly come during the sequestration.

"We have incurred approximately 20 to 25 percent reduction in those grants. We have seen that for the last three years and we anticipate the sequester is going to hit us even more so this coming year, the 2013-2014 year," Ector County Health Department Director, Gino Solla, said.

Solla says there have been times they've had to do more with less. So far his clinic has been able to keep up with the influx of new residents in the area. But he says if less money comes to his department in federal funding, they'll have to adjust accordingly.

"All that's there now is the fixed costs of staff and benefits and of course the establishment, the building that we're in. So I think we're at that level, I think that if the cuts are major, there will be some staff reduction," Solla said.

The department would have to slash certain services and cut some of the clinic hours. They'll apply for grants within the next few months. But the department won't know until after September what would be available to them at the federal and state level.

"But our reason for being here is to provide the public, at least the citizens that need us, the most that don't have another avenue. We will continue to that to the best of my ability," Solla said.

If federal funding is less than before and the county cannot make-up the difference, Solla says staff reductions will then take place.