At Least 30 More Days of Services County Board Delays Plans to Lay off Employees, Cut Health Programs

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 14, 2010 | Go to article overview

At Least 30 More Days of Services County Board Delays Plans to Lay off Employees, Cut Health Programs


Byline: James Fuller jfuller@dailyherald.com

Hugs abounded and tears flowed for an audience of young mothers and health care providers who begged the Kane County Board for a reprieve from health department layoffs and program cuts Tuesday.

Low-income moms and their babies will continue to receive health services through the county for at least 30 more days. County board members created a delay in planned layoffs to allow state lawmakers and union officials to find $1.5 million in overdue state payments for services the health department has already provided.

The county board voted 13 to 10, with three members absent, to table a plan that would have gutted the health department by laying off about half of its staff. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union officials took the vote as a victory, but Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said employees may receive the layoff notice anyway. The layoff notices advise employees of a possible layoff, not a definitive job loss.

With that in mind, Kuehnert will talk to the county's labor attorney for advice on the proper timing of the notices to move ahead with the layoffs as envisioned immediately after the 30-day delay.

That assumes state lawmakers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees can't find the emergency funds during a time when the General Assembly is on summer vacation. The county board still must approve any layoffs before they occur.

County board members granted the reprieve after an impassioned plea from several beneficiaries of eight programs headed for the chopping block if the layoffs occur.

Dr. Jennifer Schening, a pediatrician who works with many of the county's foster children, spoke of the bureaucratic red tape involved with securing the medical histories of foster children that can be navigated only through the county's Health Works program. Schening said she can't provide the medical care to the children without those records. …

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