Federal threat preparedness funding for the Putnam County Health Department could be fully approved within a few weeks, thanks to a recent agreement.
Concerns were first raised at an Oct. 3 board of health meeting, where officials said if the state didn't distribute federal grant monies, it could mean a gap in emergency coverage.
Before, Putnam County depended on Kanawha-Charleston Health Department staff for emergency cases like chemical leaks or disease epidemics.
The grant started July 1, but coincided with an agreement that put Kanawha-Charleston in charge of services in Putnam County.
The state Department of Health and Human Resources and Kanawha-Charleston reached an agreement to have Putnam reapply for the grant. The application process has begun, DHHR officials said.
"This will enable us to build basically the infrastructure, capacity and capability in Putnam County in order to prepare the citizens for a public health disaster and also enable a proper response," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha-Charleston executive director.
Gupta said although the department is a few weeks away from full grant approval, it will not stop preparedness services already provided to Putnam County residents.
In the Oct. 3 meeting, Janet Briscoe, director of epidemiology and threat preparedness, said the county could be vulnerable in times of emergency if it does not get a full-time threat preparedness coordinator.
Gupta said the department has conducted second-round interviews with people and is proceeding with the hiring process.