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Jones County Health Department suspends child health program

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TRENTON, N.C. -

A local health department is suspending some of its child health services for at least the next 30 to 60 days.

The Jones County Health Department has to re-train and hire more staff before re-opening its child health program, said Jones County manager Franky Howard.

"I wouldn't call it a bad situation. I would call it an unfortunate situation," said Howard.

Howard says the high turnover rate at the health department has left it with only one doctor and one nurse.

9 On Your Side asked why the turnover rate is high, but the answer is unclear.

"We deal with the medical professionals and folks that's hard to retain and attract to come to Jones County because we do have limited resources and can't offer the benefits that maybe a private practice can or other larger counties," said Howard.

Howard said the county decided to cut the child health program because it is not mandated by the state. The health department still provides other services like child health immunizations, pregnancy testing, adult health screenings, and STD testing.

But those who have a sick child or need their child to get a physical exam are being redirected to the Craven County Health Department and private specialists.

"It's sad these people can't go to their own local health department and get the services that taxpayers paid for, that they deserve," said  Sonia Fogg. Fogg, of Kinston, worked at the Jones County Health Department for two years as an interpreter and supervisor until she quit.

"We had one great lady retire. Then we had one good person that she pretty much retired just because she couldn't take it anymore," said Fogg.

Back in April, the health department received conditional accreditation after failing several state benchmarks, but Howard says he doesn't know which ones.

The county has requested help from state consultants and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

They come every week to train staff members so the Jones County Health Department can one day get full accreditation.

9 On Your Side is working to find out which benchmarks the health department failed, but David Pesci, director of communications at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says it'll take several days to provide that report.

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