The Harlan County Board of Health has taken another step toward separating from the Cumberland Valley Health District. During a meeting Monday, the board discussed conducting a feasibility study.
Board Treasurer Leo Miller introduced Ken Fiser, a consultant who has performed such studies for other counties.
“Mr. Fiser has informed me he had 33 years working with the Department of Public Health,” said Miller. “The last 12 years he was the director of the division of administration and financial management. He retired in 1995 and since then he’s been working with local and district boards of health with budgeting and finances.”
According to Fiser, it is the fiscal court’s decision whether or not to pull out of the Cumberland Valley District.
Fiser said that if the feasibility study showed it was inadvisable for Harlan County to separate from the district, the fiscal court could rescind or back out of the decision.
Fiser said the state may require four months notice for separation.
“Once you’ve made the decision to pull out there’s a lot of work to do,” said Fiser. “The Board of Health has to appoint someone… to set up the change over.”
After explaining the process for separation, Fiser took questions from board members and employees in attendance.
Fiser was asked if a feasibility study would show what was to be gained or lost through separation.
“When I do a feasibility study I will to the best of my ability estimate everything,” said Fiser. “Since the health maintenance organizations have taken over Medicare and since most of the health department’s revenue comes from Medicare, it’s really hard to estimate what you’re going to be getting.”
An employee in attendance inquired if employees would retain their same rate of pay should Harlan County separate from the district.
“When I do the feasibility study I would assume all rates of pay would stay the same,” said Fiser.
Lynette Renner, the interim director for the Cumberland Valley Health District, said she was “dismayed” Harlan County is considering separating from the district.
Renner said the district does a lot for the counties involved.
“We do the payroll, we do accounts receivable, we manage insurance and benefits. There are a lot of services that go on behind the scenes,” said Renner.
Renner pointed out the district has also written some grants that will stay with the district upon separation.
“We’re in a real fragile time,” said Renner. “I just hate to see you break away during this time.”
The board passed a motion to hire Fiser to create a feasibility study examining the viability of separating the Harlan County Health Department from the Cumberland Valley Health District.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com