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Sequestration in Oklahoma: Jobs, public health programs at stake at state Health Department

If a process known as sequestration commences, the state Health Department could lose an estimated millions in federal money along with about 30 jobs.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: February 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm •  Published: February 13, 2013

About 60 percent is from federal funding.

Cox-Kain said part of the reason this would have such an impact on the department relates to previous state budget cuts.

From 2009 to 2011, the state Health Department saw an 18 percent reduction in the money it receives from the state.

It did not see a budget cut in 2012.

The agency instituted two voluntary buyout offers and is down 300 full-time employees.

Officials from the state Health Department anticipate that sequestration would affect programs that protect vulnerable populations and the general public from infectious disease and man-made or natural disasters, according to an agency document.

The department does this through programs, such as its disease surveillance programs, which many people probably don't know exist.

For example, the state Health Department monitors flu activity in Oklahoma. In 2009, this proved important.

The H1N1, or Swine flu, pandemic killed 48 people in Oklahoma. H1N1 was detected through the efforts of local surveillance programs in the U.S., Cox-Kain said.

“(Disease surveillance) allows us to see if we've got an organism that's either circulating in the community where we need to go in and intervene and stop it, or we have a novel organism that's circulating which we think our population may not be adequately protected against,” she said.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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