All 10 Public Health clinics in Seattle and King County will remain open through 2008. King County Executive Ron Sims and County Councilman Bob Ferguson, chairman of the Operating Budget Committee, announced $5 million in reserves to fund all clinics through the end of 2008, including two that were threatened with possible closure this summer.
“Access to health services is a fundamental responsibility of government, and I am pleased we were able to secure funding in the short term while we wait for a long-term solution,” said Sims. “When several school children died this winter during the flu season, our health clinics opened during Presidents Day weekend to give flu vaccinations to 2,272 people, over half of them children.”
“King County residents who depend on public clinics for their health care because they cannot afford adequate insurance can rest easier tonight knowing these clinics will be funded through 2008,” said Ferguson. “I am committed to finding a long-term solution to ensure access to public health for the nearly 200,000 uninsured residents of King County.”
Sims’ Office of Management and Budget transmitted the First Quarter 2007 Budget Report, which includes $5 million in reserves to keep all centers open in 2007 and 2008, to King County Council on May 4.
“This is good news for people who rely on our Public Health Centers,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health — Seattle &King County. “We will continue to work with our elected officials and partners in health care to develop the best ways to assure that people have access to quality health care in our community.”
The news was warmly received by dozens of King County citizens, many wearing “Save our Public Clinics” T-shirts, who turned out for Councilman Ferguson’s town meeting on public health with Dr. Fleming on May 3 in Shoreline.
While the clinics will remain open, the county recognizes that there may be the need to look at changes in operations or services provided in the attempt to meet the on-going public health funding challenges. The long-term public health funding shortfall has not been solved.
The Public Health clinics are part of a local public health network that protects and improves the community’s health. Together these facilities received 427,680 visits from 135,912 clients in 2006. Many of those visitors were uninsured.