Vidalia health unit office to close in 90 days

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Vidalia parents soon will have to drive 10 miles farther to pick up food vouchers and get their children immunized.

That is because the Concordia Parish Health Unit office in Vidalia will close in less than 90 days due to government downsizing, said officials of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. As of Friday, no specific date had been set for the closing.

The office, located in the old parish courthouse on Carter Street, is now open two days a week.

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It serves as a place for parents to pick up vouchers from the Women, Infants and Children food program (WIC) and get their children immunized. But the office only receives 233 visits a year, much less than the 2,000 annual visits the department set as the threshold for offices to stay open. The Ferriday office, which will stay open, gets 2,654 visits a year.

&uot;We’re going to encourage those who receive services at the Vidalia location to drive to the Ferriday office to receive services,&uot; said DHH Assistant Secretary Madeline McAndrew.

In all, 25 of 109 health unit offices throughout the state will also be closed during the next 90 days as part of the department’s efforts to cut $50 million from its budget.

In Catahoula Parish, the Harrisonburg office of that parish’s health unit will close. That office receives only 344 visits a year compared to 2,608 a year at its Jonesville location.

Since the Vidalia location has no staff of its own, health unit nurses based at the Ferriday office now travel to Vidalia twice a week to serve patients there. Once the Vidalia office closes, they will simply serve patients at the Ferriday office.

Similarly, nurses that traveled from the Jonesville office to the Harrisonburg location will stay in Jonesville, McAndrew said.

No layoffs are planned in Ferriday or Harrisonburg due to the downsizing, although that could be an option in the future if the number of visits falls significantly, she added.

Neither Concordia and Catahoula health unit personnel nor officials with the department’s regional office in Alexandria would comment on the downsizing, instead referring questions to the department’s state office in Baton Rouge.