For Release: December 8, 2017 – Tony Sellars, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601
In a continuing effort to reduce agency costs and meet ongoing financial obligations, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced the elimination of 37 unclassified positions effective immediately. The department also has received approval from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) for a Reduction-In-Force (RIF) that will be implemented in March 2018, eliminating an additional 161 classified positions.
“Over the past five weeks, I have met with Board members, legislators, individual staff, service area leaders and our Senior Leadership team to discuss our current financial situation, core programs and the need to reduce agency costs,” said Interim OSDH Commissioner Preston Doerflinger. “Strategically, we reviewed each one of these items along with the mandate to reduce our state appropriations and have made some extremely difficult decisions. I commend the staff engaged in this effort as we work to put the Oklahoma State Department of Health back on a solid financial foundation.”
The 37 positions eliminated today include unclassified employees at both the OSDH central office as well as county health departments across the state. Positions affected are Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Local Emergency Response Coordinators (LERC), Partnership Consultants and staff in Records Evaluation and Support, Minority Health, Office of Performance Management, and the Center for Health Innovation and Effectiveness.
The plan that will be implemented in March 2018 will be officially posted later today. In the RIF, 161 classified positions will be affected and individual notification for these employees will take place early next week. All employees whose service is ending today for budgetary reasons, as well as those whose service ends early next year will be entitled to 18 months of paid employee-only insurance premiums calculated at the 2018 rate, as well as longevity payment for next anniversary date and their annual leave balance. In addition, job placement assistance will be provided by the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development.
Total estimated cost of the RIF is $3 million, which includes FICA, unemployment benefits and the payment of accrued annual leave. The elimination of these positions will result in an annual savings of approximately $10.5 million (minus the RIF costs the first year).
“While extremely difficult, this action is another step to bring the agency more in line with current work responsibilities and core service delivery,” said Doerflinger. “Many of these positions involved duties that are already being performed or can be absorbed by other positions in the counties and central office.”
Doerflinger also announced the furlough for OSDH employees who make more than $35,000 per year will end with the pay period ending December 23.
“As we move forward with reduced personnel, we must be able to provide critical services every day without interruption. Leadership will continue to evaluate our financial position and execute efficiencies to better serve the people of Oklahoma”