Bell County Health Department now independent

Officials say layoffs and cutbacks are avoided at the Bell County Health Department.

As of July 1st, the Bell County Health Department is independent and no longer a part of the Cumberland Valley Health District.

The Bell County Health Board voted two months ago to leave the Cumberland Valley Health District. It was a move county officials say was necessary to save jobs and services.

County officials say budget cuts to healthcare at the state and federal level had them worried of possible cutbacks at the Health Department if they stayed in the Cumberland Valley Health District. After a feasibility study, the Bell County Health Board decided to leave the district and operate independently.

Monday morning, the Bell County Fiscal Court approved $500,000 for a loan for the health department.

County officials say due to the status of public health, the bank would not give the health department a loan on its own, so the fiscal court got it with its backing. County officials say the health department will be able to pay back the money.

"The health department will do really well and it will support itself and pay back in just a short, short time," said William S. Partin, Magistrate District 5.

Magistrates say there will be no layoffs or cutbacks at the Health Department as a result of the independence.

Employees at the Bell County Health Department could even get raises, something county officials say would not happen if the department had stayed in the Cumberland Valley Health District.

"If they had stayed in the district, several of them would have lost their jobs and the potential to get a raise would have been out of the question," said Albey Brock, Bell County Judge-Executive.

Directors say patients will not see a difference at the health department.

"The key to this is we're going to be able to maintain the level of service for the community the health department is currently providing now and that's why we're doing this," said Brock.

County officials say there will be no tax increases to pay for the health department's independence and its expenses.


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