DPHSS seeks $60.3 million budget

Department of Public Health and Social Services officials testify during the department's budget hearing on June 25.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services had their budget hearing Tuesday afternoon and requested $60.3 million from lawmakers for fiscal year 2020, including $750,000 for the Medical Marijuana Program which will fund five vacancies.

The grand total is actually $107.9 million, but DPHSS Director Linda Denorcey explained during the public hearing that with the federal shares of $47.6 million, the department is only asking for $60.3 million from lawmakers.

To break down the $60.3 million requested, $14.7 million will go towards personnel, $44.1 million for operations, 1.2 million for utilities, and $203,000 for capital outlay.

By division, the biggest part of the funding pie goes to the Division of Public Welfare, followed by the Division of Senior Citizens and the Division of Public Health.

So where will the funding come from? $49.8 million will come from the general fund and $10.5 million will be taken from what’s considered special revenue such as the DPHSS Sanitary Inspection Revolving Fund and the Healthy Futures Fund to name a few.

Some of the critical issues that were reported by division heads include:

* Lack of physicians and nurses for the medical clinic in Mangilao, stating that there is only one physician working at Central Public health, no OB-GYN or pediatrician, and not enough nurses to oversee all the different clinics, leading to children not getting the immunizations they need.

* $1.5 million is needed for an electronic vital records system for the Office of Vital Statistics (OVS), which is responsible for registering, maintaining, and storing vital statistics. According to Chief Public Health Officer from the Division of Public Health Dr. Susan Kaneshiro, the current system is on the brink of crashing.