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The state's Departments of Health and Human Services are officially one agency

In element portrait of Human Services Director Chris Jones
Poppy Mills/NDDOT
Photo Lab
In element portrait of Human Services Director Chris Jones

The merger has happened.

The North Dakota Departments of Human Services and Health are now combined, into the State Department of Health and Human Services.

Department director Chris Jones said the merger took effect Sept. 1. He said the Department kicked off the merger with a virtual "town hall" for all the agency employees.

"It was just really nice to hear from different team members, about why they're excited for the integration, and how they believe collaboration was going to improve," Jones said. "There was already collaboration in the past. But this was about working more closely together to serve citizens. It was a heartwarming experience."

Jones said one of the first things people will notice is a new Website – HHS-dot-ND-gov.

"It's still in development, but it is a much easier to navigate website," Jones said. "It really focuses more on people, than on the services themselves."

Jones said the agency is working very hard to make it easier for people to find help, whether it be economic help, physical health or behavioral health, through multiple platforms.

No jobs have been cut in the merger. And Jones said there is still some work to do.

One of the tasks is to finalize the budget proposal for the agency.

"Just as we were benchmarking the two agencies with other agencies in other states, we realized we may not have enough resources for all of the programs we are asked to deliver," Jones said. "So, the question is — how do we best resource for the upcoming Legislative session?"

The budget proposal from HHS will be part of Governor Burgum’s executive budget, which will be given to state lawmakers in the December organizational session.

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