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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Department of Health and Environmental Control is set to undergo major restructuring come March.

Catherine Templeton, Director of DHEC, says three major changes will be happening within the organization in order to save costs and create a more cohesive workforce.

In a letter to employees she says,

"Ultimately, my goal is to make it easier for you to do your job and improve the services we provide to our customers. I want to peel back layers of bureaucracy in some of our health clinics and provide structure and direction in some of our environmental health offices; I want to make it easier for our staff in the Upstate to help out our staff in the Lowcountry, and vice versa; I want to make sure our services are measured by our customers' needs, not by where they live."

One way Templeton says DHEC is going to save costs is by terminating 45 upper management positions. The elimination of these jobs equates to about $7 millionin salary.

According to Templeton, $5 million dollars of that money is being invested into providing agency services and hiring about 68 employees. The other $2 million is being saved for future reinvestments.

Templeton says that those being affected by job termination are encouraged to apply for newly created positions.

The second restructuring effort is to merge Environmental Health into Environmental Services to become "Environmental Health Services." Officials say this merge will help cross train employees and help central management create Templeton's goal of "one DHEC."

"One DHEC is a more efficient DHEC; One DHEC creates direct accountability for our staff, provides more access for our customers, and frees resources from fixed costs and overhead," says Templeton. "One DHEC removes the extra steps we do to ourselves every day. One DHEC shares resources, information, and personnel. One DHEC is good common sense."

The last major effort to unify the organization is to restructure regional lines. Currently DHEC is separated into 8 different regions but the goal is to reduce those regions by half. Come March 1st, DHEC will be organized into the Lowcountry, Pee Dee, Midlands and Upstate regions in order to create a more seamless organization, says Templeton.

"This new structure forces health and environmental employees to coordinate, sit together, learn from and know each other, and create One DHEC," says Templeton. "We will no longer tell the citizens that they have to go down the street to the "other" DHEC. And we will stop doing things because "that is the way we've always done it."

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