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PA Health Dept. calls for closing nearly half of state public health centers

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 4, 2013 12:44 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The state Department of Health wants to close nearly half of Pennsylvania's health centers because it says they are ineffective in helping treat public health problems. 

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Instead, Health Department officials say they want to transform the system so department personnel can reach more people. One way is by taking immunization equipment to big public events.

The department says the plan will mean consolidating the 60 state health centers into 34 while eliminating the jobs of 26 nurses that overlap with other agencies. Department officials say 104 nurses will remain on the job.

The department says the plan will mean consolidating the 60 state health centers into 34 while eliminating the jobs of 26 nurses that overlap with other agencies. Department officials say 104 nurses will remain on the job.

Department officials say the centers average two nurses and cost $20 million to run.

Sandy Deaver, a registered nurse in the south-central health center, says the nurses help provide immunizations, counseling and disaster relief. She says closing the centers will especially be felt in rural areas.

The labor union that represents state nurses says the move runs the risk of slowing down the detection or prevention of outbreaks of communicable diseases. Nurses say closing the centers will especially be felt in rural areas.

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