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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma State Department of Health is preparing to lay off more than 150 employees next month due to budget woes.

Data obtained by The Oklahoman show that 43 registered nurses are scheduled to lose their jobs at local health departments. According to the data, 28 patient care assistants, 16 licensed practical nurses and 50 office workers are also expected to be laid off.

“While we recognize this is a difficult process for our employees, community health remains a priority for the OSDH,” said Interim commissioner Preston Doerflinger. “Public health delivery is not solely the responsibility of our state infrastructure, but through important collaborations and private partnerships we can continue to create a state of health.”

Department spokesman Tony Sellars attributed some of the layoffs to ending the ParentPro pilot program, a home-visiting initiative that teaches parenting skills to at-risk families. He said the department also is considering having only one patient care assistant per district and no longer using licensed practical nurses because of limitations in the duties they’re licensed to perform.

According to Sellars, the department has considered the most cost-effective and efficient ways to staff each local department.

“The staffing changes were assessed at the local level, on a county by county, clinic by clinic,” Sellars said. “We will consider the program that is available, what options are available in all counties, the need for the services as well as the distance and time to provide the most efficient service for the clients.”

The department announced its plan to lay off about 10 percent of its workforce last year. The announcement followed financial trouble, allegedly caused by overspending and shifting federal money in questionable ways under former officials who resigned in 2017.


Information from: The Oklahoman,