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BURDEN GROWS AS FUNDS SHRINK, DAVIS HEALTH DIRECTOR COMPLAINS

The state is putting an increasingly heavy burden on local health departments, requiring them to take on more programs but constantly reducing their funding, Davis County Health Department Director Dr. E. Arnold Isaacson said Wednesday.

Isaacson used the dedication of the county's expanded and remodeled health department offices as a forum to attack the state Legislature, charging lawmakers are putting an undue burden on already overloaded county health resources.He called for a restructuring of the financing of health programs, with more dollars going to local and county health-care providers. State funding, he charged, is "grossly inadequate" for the programs mandated by the state and counties have to make up the difference.

County health departments perform a wide range of tasks beyond immunizing schoolchildren, said Isaacson, with health inspectors monitoring everything from auto emissions and underground storage tanks to swimming pools and noise pollution.

"We must reverse the funding trend of the last decade," Isaacson said. "Local health departments are the service arm that deliver health services, not the state, yet the bulk of the funding, the majority of the money, stays at the state level.

"A redistribution of that money must be made," the director said, suggesting that the health services funding formula be modeled on school funding, where the state collects and redistributes funds to local districts rather than spending the bulk of it.

At Wednesday afternoon's ceremony, state and county officials stretched a skein of gauze across the doorway of the newly remodeled offices, which used to house the county sheriff's department and jail, then snipped it to open the building.

The annex building across the parking lot from the county courthouse in downtown Farmington houses the deparment's nursing division and clinic, administrative offices, aging council and other offices.

The environmental division remains in the courthouse basement, where it has expanded into the space previously occupied by the entire health department.

Isaacson noted the remodeling has tripled the department's space.