Health department brainstorms ideas to help offset budget crisis
El Dorado County Public Health Department administrators are considering a variety of options to help offset a money crunch.
The department must cut $600,000 from its budget by the next fiscal year, said department Director Gayle Erbe-Hamlin.
A public forum was held Friday at Lake Tahoe Community College to discuss the cuts.
Proposed programs under the ax are family-planning services, pregnancy testing, women’s breast and pap exams, and well-child exams. Three staff positions also may be eliminated from the South Lake Tahoe clinic, Erbe-Hamlin said.
“It’s not a good option, and we’re not pretending that it is,” Erbe-Hamlin said.
Erbe-Hamlin estimated that 1,642 patients would be affected by the loss of programs, though services for sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, immunizations, Hepatitis C and HIV still will be provided.
Administrators hope they can collaborate with Planned Parenthood to provide family-planning services, Erbe-Hamlin said. To promote the idea, public health officials have been meeting with Barton Community Clinic and Planned Parenthood to brainstorm ideas.
Planned Parenthood is interested in establishing a clinic in South Lake Tahoe. The organization now sees clients three half-days a month at Tahoe Youth and Family Services, Erbe-Hamlin said.
If Planned Parenthood can find space and feels welcome in the community, it could possibly open a clinic up here, Erbe-Hamlin said.
She added that community members should contact the health department with ideas they’d like to share.
“No idea is a bad idea in a situation like this,” Erbe-Hamlin said. “It helps us look at other ways to do this.”
A final public hearing will be held at 2 p.m. April 1 in the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors chambers in Placerville. If the proposed cuts are approved, they will be fully implemented July 1.