Health Department to oversee MSARC - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Health Department to oversee MSARC

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton at Monday's press conference. Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton at Monday's press conference.

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center, or MSARC, will begin working under the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department.

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton made the announcement at a press conference Monday afternoon. 

Click here to watch the press conference.

Wharton said the change will be effective July 1st, and will affect only a handful of employees at the center.

"It's not like we're moving 200 people, it's just the administration," Wharton said.

Saying the Health Department is a joint agency between the city and county, Herenton said MSARC will report to both governments.  The mayors said the change should help solve jurisdictional problems that have arisen in recent months.

"In the overall scheme of things, the vast body of work will go on uninterrupted and improved where necessary," Wharton said.

Wharton said the decision will probably cost the county nearly $200,000.  The transition will begin immediately, and Wharton said there are enough nurses available to take care of any rape cases that might come in.

"This is a critical function and out of everything we're going to find the money to get it staffed up and keep it staffed up the way it ought to be," he said. "We're not going to let budgetary considerations stand in the way of this."

Wharton added people should not be turned away as they have been in the past. 

The annoucement was an abrupt change for Mayor Herenton, who told Memphis City Council members last Tuesday that operation of the center would remain under the control of the city.

Wednesday night, a council budget committee voted to eliminate funding to the center, under the terms that the county or another party would it over.

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