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North Dakota's Health Department and Human Services Department working on merging

Portrait of Christopher Jones - Director of the Department of Human Services
Poppy Mills/NDDOT
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Portrait of Christopher Jones - Director of the Department of Human Services

North Dakota’s Departments of Health and Human Services are working on merging the two agencies.

The 2021 Legislature approved the merger plan. The bill gives the agencies until September 2022 to finish the combination.

Human Services Executive Director Chris Jones said the two agencies have begun "town halls" with team members in both agencies. He said the agencies have put out a "request for proposals" with a number of consultants, for their recommendations on what to do.

"We fully intend we will easily meet that September, 2022 deadline for bringing the agencies together," Jones said.

Jones said the agencies are looking at the merger from a "citizen's perspective."

"How do we better deliver health and human services to the citizens of North Dakota," Jones said. "We want to put it together with the state plan for health. And we want to take what we have learned to create a strong agency to meet the health and well-being of North Dakota."

Jones' words were echoed by the state health officer, Dr. Nizar Wehbi.

"We ware working together to find those synergies that will allow us to serve North Dakotans better, and to provide more services, as well as a better quality of services," Wehbi said.

The new agency will have an executive director, and a state health officer.

Human Services has around 2200 employees. The Health Department has around 200. Legislators said t he merger was not meant to eliminate jobs – but to eliminate some overlap.

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