City votes to save Lubbock Health Department - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

City votes to save Lubbock Health Department

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

After four months of debate, controversy and commentary from the public, the Lubbock City Council voted Thursday to keep the Health Department intact.

Originally city council planned to close the facility August 31st because the building was too expensive to maintain. Councilman Todd Klein then requested the department stay open for 90 days.  

Now the long road is over.

"I am very pleased the citizens of Lubbock were able to rally," said Board of Health member, Brian Carr.

Doctors, nurses and citizens packed the room eagerly awaiting a decision.

"Regardless of what kind of budget crunch we are in people still get sick," said Councilman Floyd Price.

Price explained that the hepatitis A scare at Cheddars made everyone aware, Lubbock needs a central health department.

"If we hadn't worked as a unit to correct that what would we would have had? We would of had an epidemic," said Price.

But like that issue, Price says someone needs to pay and the city simply doesn't have the money.

"We have a limited means and people need to ante up," said Mayor Tom Martin.

Dr. Linda Brice, a member of the Health Department sub-committee, presented the research to the council.

"I'm elated. I think this is the first step," said Brice.

Right now the immunization and STD clinics will remain under city control and new sources of funding are being explored.

As for the lost jobs, the Board of Health will discuss bringing those people back and adding more surveillance staff.  

"A lot of them pulled their papers at the very end and have been sitting. Many of them have given up great jobs in hopes of keeping the health department open because they care so much for this community," said Brice.

Brice says the building would remain in the same location depending on the cost.

If the city does bring back all the original staff they would still need $83,000 to cover the rest of the Health Department costs.

"What we need to do is get the county involved, share the expense, get the Health Sciences Center involved, get the hospitals involved, all the medical and the community and every private citizen to get involved because that's what it's going to take," said Brice.

Lubbock City CFO Andy Burcham says they are looking at absorbing some of the cost by allocating funds. Lee Ann Dumbauld was not at city council.

The board of health will discuss all the options at their next meeting November 18th.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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