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Temporary home found for Putnam County Health Department

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The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has found a temporary home for the Putnam County Health Department at the Putnam County Department of Health and Human Resources office in Winfield.

Officials previously decided they would not use the Putnam Health Department's former Scott Depot location because of expense. So, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department was tasked with finding another place to administer services.

This came after budgetary concerns at the Putnam County Health Department, where officials said in a previous meeting that the department's debt exceeded $200,000.

In a previous interview, board member Joseph Haynes explained the health department moved to the new facility in hopes of expanding the clinical end and have more income coming in. However, he said that did not happen.

Another thing that contributed to the debt was a personnel issue that ended up in litigation. Haynes previously said the legal fees were more than expected and the previous administration paid the legal fees before rent and utilities.

Lolita Kirk, senior interim administrator of the Putnam County Health Department and director of administration for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, said the board of health is working with the county commission to settle its debt.

Under an agreement finalized July 25, officials agreed that the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department will provide all services for Putnam County, ranging from vaccinations to clinical services.

At its new temporary location, services such as travel immunizations, job immunizations, adult immunizations, blood pressure testing, TB testing, HIV testing and lice management will be offered but only through an appointment basis.

"We are working on an office building in Winfield to have a more permanent location to work out of," Dr. Rahul Gupta, Kanawha-Charleston chief health officer, said in the Aug. 6 news conference.

Gupta said the health department hopes to find a permanent location before Dec. 31, which is when the memorandum of understanding runs out.

After that time, Gupta said the Putnam County Board of Health and the county commission will have to see what direction they want to take.

"This is a new model," Gupta said. "It's not been done this way in West Virginia before."

Gupta said officials wanted to find a temporary location because they wanted to make sure something was set up before the start of school.

"We've always said that what we really wanted to do is provide services for Putnam County in Putnam County," Gupta said. "School starts later this month, and we wanted to see how we can get these kids their shots before school."

The new location will host back to school clinics for Kindergarten-College. Walk-in clinics are set for 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. Aug. 14-15 and again Aug. 21-22.

The recommended vaccinations are diphtheria, tetanus, pertusis, haemophilus influenza Type B, hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, human papilomavirus, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal, pneumococcal, polio and varicella.

"We want to make sure that people don't have to travel to Charleston to get services," Gupta said, noting that since the health department took over services of the Putnam County health department, it has seen a 1,000 percent increase in patients treated.

Gupta said a majority of the staff will be sharing time between Putnam County and Kanawha-Charleston; however, he does not anticipate Kanawha County's services to suffer.

Kirk said she hopes to be in a new location as soon as next month.

People may call the department at 304-757-2541 to set up an appointment.