Vidalia health unit stops offering services today

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – As of today, the Concordia Parish Health Unit office in Vidalia will stop offering services such as immunizations, Women, Infants and Children voucher programs and clinics to deal with sexually transmitted diseases.

But Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals environmental health workers – those that conduct restaurant and sewer inspections, for instance – will still work out of that office, at least for the time being, DHH spokesman Bob Johannessen said Thursday.

On Nov. 22, DHH announced that it would close 25 health units in 20 parishes to cut costs, including the Vidalia Health Unit office, if those parishes did not submit to DHH a specific plan for use of the health unit facilities.

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The parishes would also have had to submit police jury resolutions and letters of intent from the health care providers that proposed to take over the facilities. Concordia Parish officials did not submit such documents to DHH, Johannessen said.

&uot;I think (Concordia Parish officials) recognized that they can probably find other uses for that space,&uot; Johannessen said. No such uses have been finalized, according to parish officials.

The Vidalia office, located in the old parish courthouse on Carter Street, is only eight miles away from a Ferriday office that will remain open. &uot;So I don’t think this will present any burden to citizens of that community,&uot;&160;Johannessen said. &uot;Besides, it was only open two days a week.&uot;

Some staff members will be moved to other jobs within the department, although an undetermined number of health unit employees throughout the state will be laid off.

Meanwhile, Riverland Medical Center is in the early stages of negotiations with the DHH to take over operation of the Health Unit office in Ferriday. If an agreement is reached, DHH would reimburse Riverland a certain amount for each service hospital personnel provided at the center.

But what health services Riverland would contract to provide would depend on how much DHH would reimburse for each type of service, and those numbers are still being determined. Such an agreement would have to be approved by the hospital’s board and the Concordia Parish Police Jury. Unless an agreement is reached, DHH will continue operating the Ferriday office.