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Health department seeking new space for additional hires

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department is considering hiring additional staff and has asked the City of Buckhannon if it can supply office space to accommodate the new hires.

According to an UBHD agenda for its Jan. 7, 2021 meeting published this week, health department officials may hire additional nursing staff members and one other sanitarian.

At Buckhannon City Council’s Dec. 17 meeting, city finance and administrative director Amberle Jenkins told council members she’d received a request from UBHD Nurse Director Sue McKisic to utilize some of the city’s office space. Jenkins specified the health department was willing to pay rent.

“They are in preparation for hiring another sanitarian and a couple nurses, and they’re running out of space in their small building, so they asked if we had any areas that they could temporarily set up for diskspace with computers and phones for the sanitarian and one other employee,” Jenkins said.

The Upshur-Buckhannon Health Department is located at 15 N. Locust St.

Jenkins said the health department and city officials “work really well together” on housing and zoning enforcement issues and on vaccinating city employees. She noted that the five-acre property the city plans to acquire for the Street and Parks Department at 395 Mud Lick Road houses 10 offices.

“The property we’re getting ready to acquire has 10 offices in it,” Jenkins said. “They’re willing to pay rent.”

Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner asked if McKisic had pinpointed a deadline by which the office space had to be secured.

“The sooner, the better,” Jenkins replied. “The new employees coming on likely at beginning of year.”

Councilman Dave Thomas suggested Jenkins work with public works director Jerry Arnold to determine if there’s available office space in the new Street and Parks Department headquarters that was not earmarked for any other purpose.

Council members said they were “agreeable” to the idea but opted to postpone making a formal motion until specific offices are designated.

The health department’s workload has drastically increased with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it relates to contact tracing. According to its most recent update on Friday, Dec. 18, there were 83 active COVID-19 cases in Upshur County. The cumulative number of cases in Upshur County is 684 confirmed cases plus 17 probable cases for a total of 701 cases.

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