Public Health Nursing Prepares To Reduce Staff, Limit Services With Coming Budget Cuts

May 26, 2016

Alaska Public Health Nursing facility in Bethel, AK
Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

Alaska lawmakers haven’t passed a state budget, but with an almost four-billion dollar deficit, state-funded agencies are preparing for cuts as they plan their budgets for the next fiscal year.

Public Health Nursing is readying for a three to four million-dollar cut or about 20 percent of its budget starting July 1. That follows a five percent budget cut from last year.

The numbers are based on the House Health and Social Services Committee’s funding plan approved in March.

For the Yukon Kukwokwim Delta, these cuts would mean limiting services and eliminating two positions.

One of those positions would be a vacant nursing slot and the other a position that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree and has been used as a gateway for recruiting locals from the region into Public Health Nursing.

With less staff, Public Health expects to stop providing services for sexually transmitted infections for people over age 24 and to limit well-child exams to children under the age of six. Nurses will refer people outside these ages to the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation or Bethel Family Clinic.

Jerry Troshynski, Regional Nurse Manager, says these age ranges serve the most vulnerable populations.

He also says Alaska Public Health Nursing has a legal obligation to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and will continue its efforts to eradicate tuberculosis in the YK Delta.

Public Health expects to cut 30 to 35 nurses statewide. All changes to staff and services are tentative until the Legislature passes a final budget.