Funding cuts force closure of Lincoln County clinic

KSDK - The Lincoln County Health Department's Family Planning Clinic offers birth control, STI testing and treatment and more to about 500 patients a year --- mainly women. But it's scheduled to close on July 1.

"Public health decisions aren't always about money, or they should not always be about money," said Health Department Administrator Brett Siefert. "But there's an opportunity cost to each dollar spent in one place. So we want to make sure that overall as an agency we're offering the best value for those who support us, which is our local taxpayers."

Siefert tells us it takes more than $300,000 to run the clinic. Patients pay on a sliding scale. Siefert says they made sure there were other local options before making the decision.

"It's hard to say exactly what the differences will be. We do know there are providers who can also offer the sliding scale fee. And some of course do not," he said.

Meghan Runge has been a patient for 17 years.

"I'm not low-income at all, but it's my personal choice to come here as a patient," she said.

Runge tells us she worries that people in Lincoln County who don't have the means to see a doctor regularly will be left out.

"You have a lot of women, and family members for that matter, who can come up here to the family planning clinic and get any help they need. It needs to be done, especially when you're not able to afford the new insurance premiums going up and everything," she said.

The money is slated to be re-purposed for other programs. Runge plans to fight for the clinic and she hopes the people making the decisions listen.

" we continually assess the community's needs and wants, we're open to...we want to offer the services that our community needs. So never a done deal," Siefert said.

Brett Siefert also says between now and July 1, staff will work with patients to find a different option close to them.

Two people are slated to lose their job when it closes.


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