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Putnam health services get back on track

By Candace Nelson

Putnam County's public health services have increased more than 200 percent since its collaboration with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, one official said.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha-Charleston executive director, gave a presentation on the collaboration at a meeting of a finance subcommittee of state lawmakers Tuesday. He noted the newfound success of the Putnam County Health Department.

Gupta said Putnam's budget has decreased by about 41 percent - from the previous year's $1.25 million to $740,000 - all while offering more services.

From January to June 2013, only 10 food inspections were conducted. When Kanawha-Charleston took over, there were 50 food inspections in July alone.

Gupta said strategies are being employed to reduce costs, improve resource management and implement quality improvement processes. If the current level of services was offered at the old costs, the budget would be about $3.5 million, he said.

The Putnam County Board of Health voted in June to lay off the department's entire staff of 12 employees and to contract services through Kanawha-Charleston. The six-month contract began July 1.

Lolita Kirk, Kanawha-Charleston administrator, was appointed Putnam County administrator in June to iron out the financial issues. She has guided Putnam down the road to recovery. The two health departments now share Kanawha-Charleston's administrators.

The Putnam board's financial crisis stemmed in part from costly attorney fees it incurred as it fought a grievance from a former employee. Officials also have said the rent at the health department's previous facility was too high.

The previous rent was $11,000 to $13,000 per month, depending on utilities. The new location's rent is $1,600 per month.

Contact writer Candace Nelson at or 304-348-5148. Follow her at



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