Magazine article The Nation's Health

Illinois Affiliate Advocates for Passing State Budget, Funding Health Agencies

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Illinois Affiliate Advocates for Passing State Budget, Funding Health Agencies

Article excerpt

IT HAS BEEN MORE than 200 days since the Illinois General Assembly has passed a state budget and health departments are feeling more than squeezed-- they feel strangled.

As local health departments see their services and staff being pulled under the tide, the Illinois Public Health Association is searching for lifesavers to keep them afloat and rallying for action.

Since summer, the Illinois Affiliate has organized press conferences throughout the state with affected departments, met with legislators, given testimony at hearings and created and distributed fact sheets to the governor's office and other officials about the damage done to local public health departments due to a lack of state funding. The budget was supposed to be passed by July 1, 2015.

"Nearly half of local health departments have reduced or laid off staff, with the most severe impact happening in rural areas," said Miriam Link-Mullison, MS, IPHA president. "One in six health departments have reduced the length of the work week, one in six have reduced hours of operation and some health departments have done all three."

Funding from the state fuels many of the day-today functions of local health departments, particularly the local health protection grant. This funds the core public health duties of health departments such as tracking communicable disease, sewage and water services, said Elizabeth Whiteside, the administrator for the East Side Health District in East St. …

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