The Allentown Health Bureau is reeling after receiving word that it will to finish out the year with $90,000 less in state funding.
The bureau got the news Tuesday night. Every health department in the state will have to do with less public health funding this year.
"We were all startled by the lack of communication, that had we seen this coming we could have prepared better," said Director of Health Vicky Kistler. "We could have started planning."
After already doing six months worth of spending, the state notified the bureau retroactively that its funding had been cut $66,000. This week the city learned it would also have to make do with $23,000 less for the rest of the year.
"We were really taken off guard by the retroactive cuts."
For 2012 the department originally had a budget of $2.9 million. About $646,000 of that came from the state; $90,000 in cuts is a 14%-16% reduction.
"This blow will further reduce that infrastructure at a time where the citizens are extremely vulnerable," lamented Kistler.
Officials will have to find money or start hitting the chopping the block.
"HIV testing, HIV screening, tuberculosis control, communicable disease control, environmental health, maternal child health services, those are the areas where we're gonna have to look at cuts."
To stretch funding Kistler says the department will have to be stricter in determining who's eligible for assistance, limiting services to people who live in Allentown. She's afraid this will put more stress on the limited local primary care doctors when patients come looking for services.
"I don't want to see us take this lying down," said Kistler. "I want to see us build a public health infrastructure that makes our communities healthier and I just don't believe right now this is the way to do it."