City Council votes for moratorium on Health Dept. closure - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

City Council votes for moratorium on Lubbock Health Dept. closure

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

After weeks of heated debate the Lubbock Health Department will remain open for at least another 90 days.

Thursday the Lubbock City Council voted unanimously to allow the health board time to study the impact of closing the department and outsourcing services.

It all started in July when city manager Lee Ann Dumbauld presented her budget proposal for next year to the city council.

On Monday, Councilman Victor Hernandez said they only heard about 6 written lines of information about the changes that could be coming to the health department during that July proposal.

"I didn't find out about it until, I hate to give them credit, until I heard the news story on KCBD," Hernandez said at the meeting.

For weeks we've brought you coverage of the concerns of Lubbockites worried about the possible outsourcing of immunization and STD clinical services from the health department.

"I cannot afford to pay for insurance on my own. I urge you to please, please, please, find the money somewhere someway somehow to keep these programs," said concerned citizen Tomi Morrell.

Residents seemed to understand the difficulty of trimming the budget, but say they wish they would have been better informed by the city.

"In your defense you have a budget to meet, but in our defense you should have told us this a long time ago. We can make a contingency plan, right now we have none, and we're already diverting patients," said Dr. Roger Wolcott.

Board of Health members asked for more time.

"Take this opportunity today to slow this process down to continue to provide services at the same location until we the public have a chance to provide input," said Dr. Brian Carr.

It took nearly the entire day for the unanimous vote to allow the health board 90 days to study the public impact of outsourcing health services.

"I'm feeling much better actually. I think we've had a positive day. I'm hopeful about the moratorium being established to give us time that we can look at this, that the clinic will stay open that will continue to provide services, " Dr. Carr said.

Council members promised better communication in the future.

"From this day forward I think we're going to do a little better communicating with the public," said Floyd Price.

Hernandez said it would be easy to blame the city manager for the cuts, but said that's not what they were elected to do.

"We were elected to make the hard decisions and take some of that away from you [Dumbauld]. You work for us, you work for the citizens, we work for them," Hernandez said.

Mayor Tom Martin says current state grants run out on August 31st.

The city is waiting on new grants that are expected to be reduced for next year. If they don't get the grant money by then they will have to find the funds in the budget to keep the health department services going for the next 90 days.

A public hearing is set for Monday August 29th.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11.

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