StoryEarlier this year, facing a $15 million gap in the Public Health budget, County Executive Dow Constantine announced that up to four King County Public Health clinics could be slated for closure, including the Public Health clinic at Northshore. Today in its unanimous adoption of the 2015-2016 Biennial King County Budget, the Metropolitan King County Council saved the Northshore clinic along with three other public health clinics once slated for closure.
Clinics in Auburn, Federal Way, and White Center will remain open thanks to public and private partners stepping in to provide short-term funding support. In addition, nurses and other represented workers have agreed to concessions in compensation to help keep clinics open.
In an attempt to maintain the vital services the Northshore clinic provides to more than 4,000 patients annually, Councilmember Rod Dembowski has initiated a similar all-hands-on-deck approach with the North King County cities he represents on the Council.
“As a kid, I received my health care at a King County Public Health clinic. Keeping these vital services for women and children was my top budget priority. I am working closely with our city partners to form partnerships to keep Northshore Public Health Clinic open beyond 2015,” said Dembowski. “I believe more work is needed to develop a long-term strategy for delivering maternity support services and Women, Infant & Children program services, before we close the door on the 4,000-plus patients in our community who rely on Northshore each year.”
Today’s budget action keeps the doors open at Northshore into December 2015, pending a series of steps, provided in budget language authored by Dembowski, that are intended to identify long-term revenue to maintain the clinics services. Those steps include analysis of revenue-generating leasing options for the vacant portion of the Northshore clinic building, and the potential for revenue generated from the sale of the building to be used to fund the continuation of clinic services.
“Early feedback from cities we are working to partner with has been positive. I am hopeful that over the coming months we can forge a partnership to continue serving these vulnerable populations. It is my belief that working together, we can continue these vital health services,” said Dembowski. “We all know the downstream adverse impacts that come when we walk away from making investments in our children. My hope is that any partnership we develop to keep these services would be on an interim basis, pending more permanent funding from the state or perhaps a county children’s levy next year.”