KGOU

Oklahoma State Department of Health

Paul Monies / Oklahoma Watch

A reported cash crisis at the Oklahoma State Department of Health that led to job cuts and an emergency injection of $30 million was more of a mirage than the real thing, a months-long grand jury investigation and audit found in separate reports released Thursday.

The state’s multicounty grand jury didn’t hand up any criminal indictments, but it did fault former top officials at the health department for creating a “slush fund” to pay for pet projects and years of financial mismanagement.

With Health Department News, Waves Of Disbelief Roll Across State

May 18, 2018
Oklahoma Watch

Justin Forney worked for the state Department of Health for 12 years as a public information officer, stationed in several county health departments, including Logan County.

Then, in the wake of a financial crisis that shook the department, Forney lost his job in March – the result of cuts of nearly 200 health department positions.

Forney is still unemployed. And on Thursday, as the news rolled out statewide that a grand jury had found the agency’s reported cash shortfall never happened, he felt a sense of shock.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones at a press conference announcing the grand jury’s findings.
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The six-month investigation into financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health is complete — and no criminal charges will be filed.

Ted S. Warren / AP Images

In June, Oklahomans will vote on State Question 788, a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana, and many people are asking – how has this worked in other states?

Who has legalized medical marijuana?

Nomin Ujiyediin / KGOU

In December 2017, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced it would be laying off 161 staff members on March 3. Eleven staffers have since quit or retired, leaving 150 people who lost their jobs at the end of the day on Friday, according to an OSDH spokesman.

Preston Doerflinger speaks at the Cleveland County Health Department on November 6, 2017.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is looking for a new interim commissioner after Preston Doerflinger abruptly resigned Tuesday.

The Board of Health voted unanimously to accept Doerflinger’s resignation, which came one day after allegations of a 2012 domestic dispute in Tulsa were reported by The Frontier.

Oklahoma Watch

Update from Health Department spokesman Tony Sellars: “The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirms the resignation of CFO Mike Romero. The agency will not have any additional comment at this time.”

Storme Jones / KGOU

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says he was surprised at the lack of financial oversight in agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In an interview with Capitol Insider’s Dick Pryor and Shawn Ashley, Cockroft, who is chairing a special investigative committee looking into the health department, said the committee has received more than 60 tips about mismanagement across multiple state agencies.

“It's concerning. You would never run a business like that,” Cockroft said.

 

AP Photo

State Rep. Josh Cockroft says he was surprised at the lack of financial oversight in agencies like the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

In an interview with Capitol Insider’s Dick Pryor and Shawn Ashley, Cockroft, who is chairing a special investigative committee looking into the health department, said the committee has received more than 60 tips about mismanagement across multiple state agencies.

“It's concerning. You would never run a business like that,” Cockroft said.

Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

Seven years ago, with Oklahoma stuck near the bottom in key public health rankings, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Gov. Mary Fallin set out to reshape the strategy for markedly improving health outcomes for Oklahomans.

The approach would involve new health department initiatives, partnerships, educational efforts and other programs.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

On June 26, voters will decide if Oklahoma will become the 30th state to legalize marijuana for medical use. But regulating the new industry could prove difficult.

If State Question 788 passes, licenses will be required for each stage of marijuana cultivation, including dispensaries, commercial growers, processors, and individual medical marijuana cards.

Cuts announced at the state health department suggest leaner services for years to come.
Oklahoma Watch

At community health centers across Oklahoma, new patients typically have to wait more than two months for a dentist appointment. Those waits may get even longer.

And throughout swaths of rural Oklahoma, nonprofits that provide child-abuse prevention services for hundreds of families have halted their programs. Others are looking for alternative funding sources to stay afloat.

Oklahoma Watch

Documents released Friday by the state Department of Health include a summary of alleged deceptions within the agency that include fraudulent budget reports to state finance officials and omissions in reporting the agency’s financial position to the Legislature and the State Board of Health.

Oklahoma Watch

The cash crisis at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, which was years in the making, raises questions about which agencies and state officials could have caught the agency’s reported financial mismanagement.

At first glance, state government appears to have the powers and expertise to detect  financial irregularities occurring at the health department from 2011 to 2017.

Oklahoma Watch

The state’s multicounty grand jury is looking into allegations of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health as top officers continue to resign or get forced out in the wake of the agency’s sudden cash crunch.

Preston Doerflinger speaks at the Cleveland County Health Department on November 6, 2017.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The new head of the Oklahoma State Department of Health says the agency has been spending more than its annual revenue since 2011.

Interim Commissioner Preston Doerflinger said Monday that accounting tricks were used to move money between different accounts.

Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma State Department of Health went more than a year without a chief financial officer, and questions later arose about whether the agency overestimated revenues and used restricted federal funds to fill the gaps, sources told Oklahoma Watch.

However, a former chief financial officer at the agency said he had no knowledge of restricted funds being used to cover shortfalls.

Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Terry Cline
Warren Vieth / Oklahoma Watch

The top official and a senior deputy at the Oklahoma State Department of Health have resigned amid findings that the agency overspent and mismanaged finances for years.

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

A cash crunch that emerged over the summer at the state Health Department goes beyond the state’s current budget shortfall and caused the department to reach out to public health agencies in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties for help in shoring up its finances.

jfcherry / Flickr.com

Five county health department locations in Oklahoma will close July 1 due to the state’s projected $1.3 billion budget shortfall. Deborah Nichols, chief operating officer at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, told The Oklahoman’s Jaclyn Cosgrove the closings are only a portion of the department’s cuts.

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