County health department to hire up to 30 new positions

Jackson County's Health and Human Services Department hopes to add 25 to 30 new positions in 2014 to be ready for an Oregon Health Plan expansion projected to cover 15,100 more county residents.

The new positions will include nurse practitioners, therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, skills trainers and case managers. They are slated to start in January 2014 in preparation for the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act rollout.

"We will be anticipating quite a bit more need," said Malisa Dodd, Jackson County HHS deputy director.

About $3 million will be needed to fund the new positions, county officials said. Federal dollars are expected to pay for them through an expansion of Medicaid benefits, said Health and Human Services Director Mark Orndoff.

"We're going to take awhile to fill all these positions until we figure out how much money were are, in fact, getting," Orndoff said. "We're really going to have to watch the analytics of this."

Health officials said about 37,000 Jackson County residents are currently OHP-eligible. Those patients receive health, mental, alcohol and drug treatment and dental benefits. Starting in January 2014, that number will jump to more than 52,000, with about 75 percent of the new patients projected to be enrolled in the first year.

The additions will bring Health and Human Services up to 245 full-time equivalent positions. Ten departments operate under the county entity, including mental health, public health and veterans services.

Orndoff said whether expansion of the Oregon Health Plan will be delayed because of the ongoing issues with the rollout of the and websites is not known.

Orndoff said he hopes to seek approval for the new positions within the next month.

Jackson County is constructing a new building to house Health and Human Services at a cost of more than $28 million on Eighth Street. It started out at 86,000 square feet, but county officials decided to expand it after construction began to accommodate the new positions and patients. Harvey Bragg, deputy county administrator, said the total square footage is still being worked out but the increased size will likely add another $2 million to the project cost.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at

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