The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department is feeling the effects of a neighboring health department in crisis.
Putnam County's Health Department has applied for $186,000 from an emergency fund held by the state Department of Health and Human Resources. It has spent more than $100,000 on legal fees concerning an employee grievance case, a big factor in the financial crisis.
"I know everybody's heard on the news that one of our neighboring health departments is in trouble," Brenda Isaacs, president of Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health, said at Tuesday's meeting.
"I can't say that we're super surprised because we've known for years that we've had issues with them.
"It bothers us because first of all, we want to know that all citizens of West Virginia are getting the services they need to be getting, and secondly, it does affect the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department when a neighboring health department is not able to function adequately.
"We see an increase in patients, and we have to pick up the slack ... it affects us financially when other health departments are not doing their job."
The Kanawha-Charleston department has seen an increase in the volume of patients, according to its executive director, Dr. Rahul Gupta. The department is seeing an increase in use of clinical services as well as vaccinations by patients from Putnam County.
While the Kanawha-Charleston department has not been able to make contact with the Putnam department, it is planning ahead for possible increased wait times and costs.
"I've made contact and left messages. I want to prepare our staff and order extra vaccines if there's an influx, but I haven't heard back," said Lolita Kirk, the director of administrative services.
Gupta did not know whether Putnam County had been turning patients away.
"We have not yet been asked to provide assistance," Gupta said. "But we are ready and willing to help when we are able ... What we do know is that school vaccinations will come up and there are state requirements.
"Those kids in Putnam County will have to go somewhere. If we need to purchase several thousand more, we want to know."