About 55% of all local health departments reduced or cut at least one program between July 2010 and June 2011, according to a survey from the National Association of County and City Health Officials
That figure compares with about 44% of all local health departments that reduced or eliminated at least one program in the prior 12-month period, the association noted. Regarding health programs, about 21% of departments reduced or cut maternal or child services, while about 9% cut epidemiology and surveillance programs.
Meanwhile, from January through June of this year, more than four out of every 10 local health departments lost at least one employee, with a collective loss of 5,400 jobs. Local health departments have lost a total of 34,400 out of a total of 155,000 jobs since 2008 due to layoffs and attrition, the survey found.
Facing strained budgets and a reduced workforce has led to innovation in some areas, according to NACCHO. For instance, the association highlighted the work of Coconino County Public Health Services District in Arizona, which became its own tax district last year as a result of a recently passed law. That action has provided the health department with a stable funding source so health officials can target funding for local priorities.