Two appointed to Putnam health board

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Two people were appointed to the Putnam County Board of Health on Tuesday, filling all the vacancies on the beleaguered health board.Putnam County commissioners appointed Bryan Escue and Michael Keiffer to serve on the health board, starting Tuesday. Their terms will expire in 2016.Escue and Keiffer will join current board members Jim Dillon and Ryan Lockhart, as well as County Commissioner Andy Skidmore, who was appointed to the board July 1. County Commission President Joe Haynes resigned his seat on the health board June 30.The county's health department is more than $215,000 in debt. Health board members voted last month to lay off 12 full-time staff members and contract its clinical services with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.According to Skidmore, the board will call a special meeting in the near future to move forward with the Putnam health department's financial recovery."Everyone knows about the problems that are out there and some of what caused them, and now we're working on solutions to get them fixed," said County Commissioner Steve Andes.Last year, the County Commission gave the health board $150,000, in quarterly payments. County Manager Brian Donat said the County Commission would now request a list of vendors from the health board and pay bills on behalf of the Putnam health department directly.
"We'll let the health department come up with their priorities and how they want to pay those debts off, but for our donation, we need to figure out what to do to get it right and fix it," Andes said. "We'll go from there, and not let it fester."According to Andes, the people who held the 12 full-time and two part-time positions at the health department were state employees; their salaries were provided through a state allotment of funds, but the health department's financial problems made the "full reduction in force" necessary.Lolita Kirk, a Kanawha-Charleston Health Department administrator who was appointed Putnam health department interim administrator last month, is still working to secure temporary space in Putnam County for clinical services. Two health professional positions will be posted this week, and more positions will be opened once Kirk has applied to and received approval from the state Division of Personnel.Also Tuesday, county commissioners approved a contract with Fidelity National Information Services to provide credit card services for county agencies.Fidelity was one of several vendors to place an offer with the county, and the company gave the lowest competitive rate bid. County agencies will be able to opt into credit card services, and the process of purchasing credit card machines and implementing the services should take 6 to 12 weeks.Fidelity has a set-up fee, but does not charge a minimum fee to cardholders, making it a better option for taxpayers, Donat said. Kanawha County also uses Fidelity for its credit card services, he said.The commission's next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 23. For information on the commission, including meeting agendas, visit Lydia Nuzum at or 304-348-5100.
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