OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced the layoffs of 37 of its employees, effective immediately Friday.

In all, OSDH says 198 employees will lose their jobs by March 2018. 

Back in October, OSDH said it originally planned to prepare a Voluntary Out Benefit Offer to reduce staffing levels statewide. But due to additional budget needs, OSDH decided on following through with a Reduction in Force (RIF), eliminating about 12-percent of its workforce.

According to the press release, the 37 positions eliminated Friday included unclassified employee at both the OSDH central office as well as county health department across the state of Oklahoma. More specifically the position affected were Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), Local Emergency Response Coordinators (LERC), Partnership Consultants and staff in Records Evaluation and Support, Minority Health, Office of Performance Management, and the Center for Health Innovation and Effectiveness.

“While extremely difficult, this action is another step to bring the agency more in line with current work responsibilities and core service delivery,” said Interim OSDH Commissioner Preston Doerflinger. “Many of these positions involved duties that are already being performed or can be absorbed by other positions in the counties and central office.”  

The news drew a strong reaction from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 9 and News9.com for more information as it becomes available.