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.
Please keep in mind @HealthyOklahoma employees today. Some unclassified employees will be losing their jobs today. It is part of the response to fiscal mismanagement by previous leaders. Sad day for hardworking folks who serve our state.— Oklahoma Public Employees Association (@OklaPEA) December 8, 2017
We understand that this is the first round of layoffs at @HealthyOklahoma The severance package is the employee's next longevity check and a lump sum payment equaling 18 months of the employee's current health insurance premium.— Oklahoma Public Employees Association (@OklaPEA) December 8, 2017
RIF'd employees also receive payment for their unused annual leave that they earned up to the 480 hour limit. Separating employees are paid for their unused annual leave anyway so it is not really part of a severance package— Oklahoma Public Employees Association (@OklaPEA) December 8, 2017
If you are an @OklaPEA member and receive a RIF notice and have questions, please contact us. We are here to help our members as much as we can during times like these.— Oklahoma Public Employees Association (@OklaPEA) December 8, 2017
The @HealthyOklahoma layoffs are not due to the work of the staff who are affected. This is directly a result of agency mismanagement by the agency's previous leadership. Staff and OSDH clients will bear the burden for previous leaders' errors.— Oklahoma Public Employees Association (@OklaPEA) December 8, 2017
This is a developing story. Stay with News 9 and News9.com for more information as it becomes available.