Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

Florida health employees become do-it-yourself movers

TALLAHASSEE

A state office complex became a giant game of musical chairs Monday as dozens of Department of Health employees stopped their workday to wheel desk chairs and computers across a parking lot in the first day of a weeklong agencywide reorganization.

A handful of moving trucks were on hand to load filing cabinets as 1,200 employees are being asked to switch from one building to another. But most of the moving was being done by employees, dressed casually on an unseasonably warm 81-degree day.

It's all part of an effort by Department of Health Secretary John Armstrong to respond to the downsizing ordered by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott last session. Estimates on the move's cost or savings were not readily available.

Many of them will switch spaces from Building 2585 in the Southwood Office Complex to Building 4025.

"If we want to keep our chair, we move it ourselves,'' said Susan Linciome of the department's immigration program as she and her co-worker Baskar Krishnamoothz moved their chairs across the parking lot. From the opposite direction came another stream of employees wheeling chairs and dollies.

The agency has been busy with the flu season, said Ashley Carr, DOH spokeswoman, but the move is necessary as they attempt to save money, she said. The agency's 17,000 employees are shrinking from 11 divisions to eight.

"We have been leasing space that may not be necessary, so we are working on consolidation efforts in order to free up space,'' Carr said.

But the office switch looked more like a carnival cake walk Monday as streams of employees moved between buildings carrying their personal items, computers and chairs.

In a series of emails to employees, Michael Graddy, director of support services for the department, said the movers won't transfer furniture but will spend each day from 1 to 9 p.m. moving filing cabinets and employees "are responsible for moving their own desk chairs."

As Travis McLane, a DOH project manager, rolled a cart up a hill loaded with the computer and printer of his co-worker Vanessa Crowther, the computer fell and crashed to the ground.

"That's your computer Vanessa,'' McLane said, retrieving it from the sidewalk. "See if it still works when we plug it in."

"Yep, we'll see," said Crowther, as she looked over the scratched surface.

Contact Mary Ellen Klas at [email protected] and @MaryEllenKlas.

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