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County health department switching to 4-day work week

Published 9:46am Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To help hold the line on costs without reducing services, the Decatur County Health Department will change its hours of operation from five days a week to four beginning Sept. 5. The health department’s new daily hours of operation will be Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Adjusting the hours to a four-day, 10-hour work week also offers benefits to working patients, said Decatur County Health Department Manager Sherry Hutchins.

“Traditional business hours have made it difficult for many of our working patients to keep their appointments without facing a loss in wages,” she said. “Many are faced with a choice between loss of pay or health care. However, alternative appointments prior to the start of the workday or soon after they get off from work will provide for more flexibility to accommodate their schedules with fewer lost wages.”

Further, Hutchins said, nontraditional hours should provide better access for students in programs such as Child Health, Immunizations and Family Planning.

The health department hopes the change will provide measurable benefits in utilities, gas, travel and staff absenteeism.

“This is a one-year trial run,” Hutchins said. “We will be evaluating costs and patient participation every three months.  With budget cuts, economic hardships and unemployment rates climbing, we are challenged with finding creative solutions to continue to fulfill our mission and provide quality services to our community.”

Decatur County Health Department is the second in Southwest Health District to switch to a four-day, 10-hour work week. Thomas County Health Department made the change July 1. Shrinking budgets throughout Georgia have resulted in furloughed workers and decreased Public Health programs in some parts of the state.

For more information, contact the Decatur County Health Department at (229) 248-3055.

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