200 Jackson Co. Health & Human Services employees planned to be laid off

Medford, Ore. —  You heard it first on NBC5 News Wednesday night – 200 people are losing their jobs at Jackson County Health and Human Services.

200 employees from Health and Human Services were notified yesterday of the layoff. This all comes after AllCare Health decided to pull its mental health contract with the county, leaving Health and Human services at a loss.

Jackson County has been providing AllCare their services for $13 million each year with the money coming from OHA, according to Mark Orndoff, director of Jackson County Health and Human Services.

The director of Health and Human Services called that decision reckless, because it’s something that’s not only affecting the staff, but the clients as well.

“Our group facilitators this morning asked if anybody had seen the newspaper and the news had come out this morning,” said Gwin Dematteo. Dematteo is describing the moment her facilitator told her group about the layoffs.

“We needed to kind of process through that, how this is going to affect everybody,” she said.

Dematteo knows this building well. She pays a visit weekly for a behavioral therapy class.

“This has just been, this is life-saving, this place. Jackson County Mental Health is vital to this community,” she said.

A community that will soon experience a loss.

“Obviously, we were all really angry and kind of scared,” she said.

Scared, because her classes and her therapists have been an important part of her life for the past year.

“Had a lot of experience with various mental health facilities and services that were provided that just really didn’t do any good,” she said.

Dematteo says she’s been in and out of the system for a majority of her life, but Health and Human Services was different than the rest.

“I shudder to think what would happen in the event that these two hundred plus employees of this organization get laid off,” she said.

Health and human services notified 200 employees about the layoffs Wednesday. The layoffs won’t happen until May 1st. But the department wanted to make sure employees had enough time to look for other work.

“For most of our staff, they get calls from headhunters probably almost everyday. So many of the folks that are here, there are going to be opportunities for them and they are going to be very employable,” said Mark Orndoff, director of Jackson County Health and Human Services.

While employees start to look for other options, the county is still figuring out what it can offer the community with the smaller workforce, and Dematteo is hoping she’ll still get the support she has now.

“I’ll be okay, I have the tools to be okay but I worry about my colleagues,” she said.

180 of those employees will come from mental health, and the other 20 will come from other departments, like administration. Health and human services says it aims to have 50 employees through the ‘bumping’ process remaining in mental health by July 1st.

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