Shelby Co. health department braces for possible cuts from seque - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby Co. health department braces for possible cuts from sequester

(WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Health Department is facing serious cuts due to the sequester. Cuts that may make it impossible to serve thousands of people in the Mid-South community.

Claudia Sanders relies on government assistance to put food on her table.

"I rely on this 80 percent because my income is so low," she said. 

Sanders is one of 27,000 people in Shelby County enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children program that provides supplemental food to those in need. 

"And it really helps me out," said Sanders. 

But thousands on the program are at risk due to a federal sequester. 

"Nine percent of any and all services that we provide is at risk," said Health Department Director Yvonne Madlock.

That means the Health Department stands to lose $18 million in federal dollars from their $59 million annual budget. 

WIC is one of many programs that will suffer.

"Some 4,000 of those families will not be able to be served if we receive a nine percent cut," said Madlock

Madlock expects the sequester to have a very serious impact on the department's ability to serve the community.

This means there will be less money to spend on free vaccinations, HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, lowering the infant mortality rate, and improving the air quality.

But families enrolled in WIC said they can't live without their most basic need – putting food on the table.

Madlock said the CDC and the state might absorb some of the costs but there is no guarantee. The health department is bracing for an eight to nine percent cut in programs across the board.

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