225 Job Cuts, 2 Clinics Close in Tulare County

January 13, 2009 6:14:47 PM PST
Tulare County Supervisors voted to lay off more than two hundred people, and close two clinics. It's part of the board's plan to bridge a two-point-four million dollar budget deficit.Dozens showed up to Tuesdays Board of Supervisors meeting angry that the county couldn't find another way to save money that didn't include closing the two clinics. But supervisors hope a local hospital can still provide the same services.

For more than an hour and a half Tulare County Supervisors heard frustrated comments from patients, laid-off clinic workers and community members about the proposed shut down of two county-run clinics in Lindsay and Tulare.

"I think we need to look at helping keep these clinics open in the interim while we come up with a plan its better than laying off 225 of our front line staff," said Dan Weaver.

Denise Nelson said, "Would you want this kind of treatment for your wife, your mother your daughter?"

Supervisors unanimously approved the clinics' closure and ratified the County Health and Human Services Agency's decision to cut nearly 500 positions. 225 people will lose their jobs. The other 250 unfilled positions will be eliminated. Health Services says the clinics are costing the county $1.7 million dollars a year.

Health Services Director Ray Bullick said, "VLF and sales tax continue to decline, our medical revenues are less than what were budgeted."

Supervisors said closing the clinics is a good "business decision" because other private health care facilities in Lindsay and Tulare can accommodate the additional patients. The board is also hopeful Tulare District Hospital will come in and take over the county run facilities that are shutting down.

County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel said, "Your obviously going to be concerned about the people the employees losing their jobs but the thing is these providers that are lining up to be coming in they're going to need employees."

County Supervisor Steve Worthley said, "This is not for me a difficult decision because we are talking about a closure that will save us $2mill approximately and there will not be a loss of service to the population."

The Lindsay and Tulare clinics are set to close on February 28th. The Tulare District Hospital is still not sure if they will be able to hire any of the county employees that were laid off but they certainly won't be able to accommodate all 225 of them.

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