WINFIELD -- The Putnam County Commission will pay the Putnam County Health Department's outstanding bills directly instead of giving its usual $150,000 donation to the agency this year.
Commissioners Steve Andes and Andy Skidmore discussed the status of the county health department at Tuesday's regular commission meeting. Commissioner Joe Haynes was absent.
The health department ran into financial trouble earlier this year and is being managed by Kanawha County Health Department. All of Putnam's health department employees have been laid off, and the board that governs the agency is working to get the department running independently again.
Andes said he and other commissioners have been fielding questions from the public about the health department.
"Everybody assumes it's a county agency," Andes said. "It's not a county agency."
The commission contributes $150,000 to the health department each year, and the state health department contributes about $400,000 each year. The employees are paid as state employees.
"It's hard to understand," Andes said. "If the state has oversight, how accountable are they?"
However, the local health board hires employees, and the commission appoints members of the board.
In fact, commissioners voted to fill two vacant seats on the health board Tuesday. Michael Keiffer of Scott Depot and Bryan Escue of Hurricane will join the board immediately. Both applied for the positions.
The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will receive funds from the state health department that would have gone to Putnam County's health department while it is in control of operations in Putnam.