Doctor fears budget cuts could compromise public health

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Health Department braces for cuts that could also impact you.
We spoke to Jefferson County's health officer who says this is a serious health care situation.

He urges county commissioners not to turn their financial crisis into a public health crisis.

Dr. Michael Fleenor says more than 50,000 people won't get the health care they need if the county takes away money that is earmarked for the department of health. He expects a cut of $17.2 million, which is 35% of the health department's operating budget. And it would mean free std and hiv services would be cut and six health centers may be closed.

Saudia White brings her children to the health department when they're sick. The situation worries her.She said, "If it wasn't here then I dont know what I would do.  I need care for them."

Dr. Fleenor says, "You just can't dismantle programs like this on a short term basis without causing a lot of harm to patients. They will get the care somewhere, it will be later in the care process. They won't be getting primary care and they will be less likely to get their shots."

Dr. Fleenor added that the result of people not getting primary care is that emergency rooms will be more crowded.

Funding cuts would also mean layoffs at the health department. Dr. Fleenor hopes to meet with lawmakers and county commissioners to prevent the funding cuts.

The Department of Health will have a board meeting next Wednesday at 5pm and this matter will be discussed.

County Commission President David Carrington is expected to be at that meeting.

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