Miss. health department asking for $107 million in COVID relief money.

Miss.  health department asking for $107 million in COVID relief money.

Nearly half the money, or about $49.7 million, would support needs at county health departments. The federal pandemic relief money would be in addition to the department’s annual budget request. The University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the Brooklyn Utility Association in Forrest County are among others competing for federal relief funds. In Mississippi, there are 92 county health departments across 80 of the state’s counties, and in many counties, the local centers are residents’ only points of health care access.

It’s the same state department that, even before the coronavirus and throughout, has provided vaccinations, reproductive health services, STI and tuberculosis treatment, cancer detection and prevention, and nutritional health services. The very department that’s been at the helm of the COVID-19 pandemic has some desperate needs that pre-date the coronavirus, including outdated technology and county health department buildings that pose potential health hazards.

The price tag to meet its needs? $107 million.  Analysis:Mississippi faces big decisions on relief money

Upkeep of the departments’ generators are of the utmost importance to maintain refrigeration — vital for some vaccines, Dobbs said. Dobbs estimated about half of the state’s 92 county health departments do not have high-speed internet access. To remedy this and provide health departments with computer and communication systems with what Dobbs called “modern capabilities,” would take about $14.6 million. “Just think about when you look at these buildings, is this where you would want to go and is this where you would want to take your family for health care services?” Dobbs asked the committee. 

Read more:With $1.8B in federal pandemic money to spend, Mississippi lawmakers face tough choices But not all look the same. Some are in desperate need of renovations, with peeling rubber flooring, brown water stains on fissured ceiling tiles and growing mold. 

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