County eyes cuts to public health services |

County eyes cuts to public health services

Sara Thompson
Jim Grant / Tribune file photoEl Dorado County Health Department nurse practitioner Nancy Jacobs gives a preschool exam to 4-year-old Itzayari Medina in 2006. Exams for children are among the public health services facing cuts by El Dorado County officials.

Due to budget shortfalls, El Dorado County may cut services at its public health clinics in South Lake Tahoe.

If implemented, the cuts would take effect July 1.

Facing the potential ax are children’s health exams, women’s breast and cervical exams, and family-planning services such as pregnancy testing and birth control.

“When you limit the amount of health-care choices, especially with low-income families, it affects the community,” said Jere Copeland, El Dorado Employees Association executive director.

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If the county cuts services, the South Shore clinic would continue to operate, but with a focus on communicable diseases.

The clinic would continue to offer immunizations, testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases and tuberculosis and screen for HIV and hepatitis C.

According to Gayle Erbe-Hamilin, director of the El Dorado County Public Health Department, administrators reviewed all services, but some are mandated by law and could not be curtailed.

If the cuts are made, patients could seek services at Barton’s Community Clinic.

“Barton’s Community Clinic would have to absorb some of those patients into our health-care system, but we just don’t know how that will happen yet,” said Barton Hospital spokeswoman Denise Sloan Smart.

Barton’s Community Clinic generally operates at a loss of around $1 million each year, Sloan Smart explained.

Sloan Smart said to effectively treat the estimated increase of 2,350 patients per year, the clinic would need additional staff.

To accommodate the influx, more space also would be needed, she added.

Barton’s management staff is working with county and clinic officials to sort through options, Sloan Smart said.

A public comment period will be held at 2 p.m. April 1 at the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors chambers in Placerville.

The board will vote on the proposal that day.

Copeland suggested that people who oppose the proposed cuts should attend the public comment period and contact El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago.

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