Fresno County Mental Health Services Face Budget Deficits
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday was expected to address cost-savings strategies for two county agencies that provide services to people with mental illnesses to help prevent the agencies from beginning fiscal year 2005-2006 with a budget deficit, the Fresno Bee reports. The county Department of Behavioral Health projects a deficit of $8 million to $10 million, while the county Department of Children and Family Services expects a $4 million budget deficit.
DBH Director Jerry Wengerd said he has attempted to reduce costs by not filling vacant positions, using more free samples from pharmaceutical companies and moving patients with mental illnesses out of long-term facilities when possible. However, Wengerd said, "I don't think it's enough to save that kind of money."
DCFS Director Gary Zomalt said he believes that his department could "earn their way" out of the deficit by applying for additional federal grants and finding other health insurance for children who do not qualify for Medi-Cal.
Kathleen Donawa, the county budget director, said, "We'll be running some strategies by the board [of supervisors] and seeking their direction. If we can't find ways to be more efficient, then we may have to reduce services" (Ginis, Fresno Bee, 4/26).