Local News

Health department lays off 16 Another 15 positions eliminated

SEBRING - Sixteen health department workers received pink slips Monday afternoon. "We sent out letters to our staff, providing them with 10 days notice their posts are going to be eliminated," said Thomas Moran, a department spokesman. "The effective date was Nov. 30." The Florida Department of Health in Highlands County also isn't filling 15 vacant positions. "That lessened the impact," he said.
In addition, one employee transferred to another county, and another has offered two-weeks notice of a transfer. It was a moment they had been waiting for, Moran said. The entire department, which numbered about 125, was told in April that revenues were declining. In August, the news came that 15 percent of their jobs could be eliminated. In the end, 25 percent of their jobs were lost. Moran did not elaborate on why each of the 16 were chosen, saying they were different pay grades and from different departments. "I'm not aware of any severance being paid. Of course, some of them have leave time. And their insurance is covered through the end of the year," Moran said. No departments will be eliminated, Moran said. "We don't anticipate any decrease in services provided to the community." The news of the layoffs came back with the approval of the budget from Tallahassee, Moran said. He hasn't heard of future layoffs. "We will continue evaluations, due to the economy," he said. Those laid off were his co-workers, Moran said. "The health department is like a family, when you're working together, you build relationships. It's more personal than, say, a large office. We interact a lot." Highlands County Health Department is at 7205 S. George Blvd., south of Sebring. Adult and children's services include breast and cervical cancer screenings, dental examinations and procedures, family planning, maternity health, school health, HIV and AIDS tests and TB screenings. gpinnell@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5828