DAVIDSON COUNTY — A dismal report from the county health director revealed the need for additional staffing at Tuesday’s regular meeting of Davidson County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners approved funding for six additional positions for Davidson County Health Department. Health Director Lillian Koontz requested two new nurses, three office support staff and a human services planner to help with what she is referring to as “firefighting” as the public health community struggles to combat the resurgent pandemic.
“We’re strapped,” Koontz said. “[Sic] Y’all see the numbers in the county. You know it affects us, too. We’ve got staff on quarantine, staff at home with kids. We’ve got executive-level management team members working check-in, because we have a job to do and we just don’t have enough people to do it.”
The nurses will be available to help with monitoring and vaccine administration, as reports continue to indicate further demand for the vaccines has overwhelmed local staff. Commissioner Todd Yates voted in favor of the measure, but he expressed concern that his grandchildren’s generation will have to foot a substantial bill to pay off debt accrued during the crisis.
Koontz promised to be as responsible in stewarding the county’s money as possible and indicated that she would not ask for the funding if her department wasn’t in desperate need.
“It looks like we’re going to have to jump back in the testing game eventually, too,” Koontz said. “We don’t have enough staff to do vaccines, so trying to add something else on is going to be difficult, but we want to serve our community in the best way possible.”
Yates asked Koontz what happens to the positions if the COVID-19 pandemic subsides before 2023, the year in which the positions are scheduled to dissolve. Koontz somberly replied that she believes the positions will be needed throughout the entire term of the agreement.
“I cannot imagine a world, unfortunately, for the term of this agreement, that would not require this support,” Koontz said. “Right now, our responsibility at the public health department, for a lack of better term, is firefighting. There’s other COVID work that could be done in the future that does not involve firefighting.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.