One in five MDH public health workers left employment during the pandemic, report finds


Nicole Pasia


Burnout continues to impact Maryland’s health workforce, with a number of public health workers and other staff leaving their employment at the Department of Health (MDH). During a recent briefing to state legislators, policy analysts from the Department of Legislative Services (DLS) reviewed MDH’s FY 2022 budget and workforce numbers. 

The analysis also found a potential $100 million in savings for the state in Medicaid funding due to federal matching funds.


Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.



DLS analysts took a snapshot of MDH’s current workforce from January 2022 and compared it to data from 2020. Over this timeframe approximately 476 public health workers, such as state employees located at local health departments, left MDH. That’s just under 20% of the 2020 cohort. Approximately 376 hospital or direct care service workers, and 243 administrative or regulatory workers, have also left MDH since 2020.

In terms of staff retention, “a lot of the workforce is relatively new to the state,” according to DLS Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Garrison. Approximately 40% of MDH’s total workforce has been with the agency for four years or less, and nearly two thirds have worked for less than 10 years at MDH.

Although the public health sector saw the highest employee loss, Garrison noted other workforce concerns within the MDH, including vacancies at hospitals or direct care services. 


Image: Maryland Department of Legislative Services


“Currently we have a higher vacancy rate with our folks who are working in our state hospitals,” he said. “… Because they have more of the overall positions in the health department—it’s about a 60-40 split—when those vacancy rates increase, it drives the overall department vacancy rate, which right now is hovering around 13%.”

A few programs in MDH’s budget will focus on workforce support, such as an $8.9 million appropriation for overtime. Additionally, the state budget will have additional general funds available due to the extension of Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) enhancement. This 6.2% enhancement continues to remain in place during the federal public health emergency declaration, which was extended until April 2022. 

“The extra quarter of enhanced matching means that there’s currently budgeted $100 million in general funds in fiscal ‘22 that will be eventually covered with federal funds,” DLS Senior Policy Analyst Anne Wagner said. “So those will be eventually saved and won’t be needed in fiscal ‘22.”