By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Dec. 18, 2013 — The Carter County Board of Health voted Monday night to consolidate its operations by temporarily closing its health centers in Olive Hill and on US 60 in Grayson.
The vote came after lengthy deliberation and amid a purported $300,000 shortfall in funds for this fiscal year, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, which recently analyzed the department’s finances.
“There’s a fixed cost to doing business and sometimes you have to make decisions that hurt,” said board member Donald Gibson.
The motion passed 6-1 in favor of consolidating operations with Judge-Executive Charles Wallace opposed to the closures.
“I think we need to find a solution to keep the Olive Hill location open part time,” said Wallace.
“Keeping the Olive Hill clinic open even a few days a week negates the savings we would get from closing it because of all the equipment and supply costs we would incur to keep the clinic going,” said Trena Greene, the department’s director of nursing.
Magistrate Clifford Roe criticized the makeup of the board as playing a part into the decision to close the facility in the western part of the county.
“How many of you are from the west side? Who appoints the board members?” asked Roe.
Board members for the county health board are appointed by the secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services with the exception of the county judge-executive who serves by virtue of office and one person appointed by the Fiscal Court.
The appointment process is outlined in KRS 212.020.
Roe also issued an ultimatum as the meeting adjourned, threatening retaliation by the Fiscal Court against the health department.
“Let’s see how they like it when we double the rent on their space in the courthouse. I’ll return the favor at the next Fiscal Court meeting,” he said.
For now, however, both facilities will remain open as a local health department must give at least 30 days of notice of any site closure to the state.
Board members speculated that the facilities will shut down operations sometime in mid-January.
The board will review the department’s financial condition at a later meeting and determine if re-opening the facilities will be feasible in the near future.
That meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 221 of the county courthouse.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.