OREGON COUNTY -- The Oregon County Health Department is among 84 health departments in the state eligible for a share of $13 million in grants. According to a news release from the Missouri Foundation for Health, the money will be available by the end of the year although the exact amount the department will receive is not known. Grants can range between $58,000 and $2 million.
Oregon County Health Deportment Director Shelia Russell is already at work on her grant request for Oregon County.
"The grants will be used for infrastructure improvements to help enhance our services to the residents of Oregon County. We will probably work on a security system for our buildings," she said.
Grants cannot be used for operational, staffing or travel expenses.
Russell said all health departments across the state are struggling because of reduced funding. "Our annual budget often barely covers the cost of meeting the agencies critical community health responsibilities," she said.
The local health department operates on an annual budget of $300,000. Only $35,000 of that is state money.
Russell said the health department is responsible for many things area residents are not aware of.
"We inspect restaurants, schools, cafeterias, day care centers -- basically anywhere food is served in the county," she said.
The health department operates on a very limited budget. "This grant is something we can use and appreciate. We will never ask for more tax money to fund our services," Russell said.
The health department has one full-time and three part-time nurses.
The grants are funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health. It was established in 2000 and is in its sixth year of awarding grants, having issued more than $230 million in grants and awards.
Russell said the Community Health Center at Thayer was established through a Missouri Foundation Grant.