Local

Kings County health clinic closing doors

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Big cuts to two important programs in the South Valley involving teen pregnancy and health care for the elderly.

A South Valley clinic will soon be shutting its doors after county health officials say the funds for the facility have simply been depleted.

The reproductive health clinic really provides care for teens and those who are uninsured.

Kings County health officials say the funds they rely on to keep this clinic and a program for the elderly running are gone.

Every year roughly 5 thousand men and women use the Kings County Reproductive Health Clinic for services like pregnancy, STD testing, gynecological services and other family planning needs.

Those who work here say the clinic is the best of its kind in the county.

"It's not the same. I've worked in various clinics in Kings County and this is the most thorough clinic I've ever worked in I can honestly say that," medical assistant Rossana Cobian said.

"The staff do an absolutely outstanding job they are really top notch providers and we get many comments about how great they are so it will be a very difficult program to end, quite frankly," Debbie Grice, Deputy Health Director of Nursing and Community Services said.

A decline in local sales tax and vehicle licensing fees which fund the clinic have tanked since 2007 and the emergency fund that's been supporting the facility in the meantime is nearly depleted.

A free program that provides preventative health screenings for people 50years old and up will also be shut down.

Kings County health officials say both the program and clinic must shut down by the end of the year.

"The outreach for teen pregnancy prevention will still continue but clinic services themselves will end," Grice said.

Up to 15 people who work at the clinic, including Rossana Cobian, are in jeopardy of losing their jobs, though health officials are hoping they can reassign most of them to different programs.

Cobian says many employees have had a tough time taking in the news of the clinic's closure.

"It was devastating..devastating for the people who may be losing their jobs and more importantly our patients," Cobain said.

There are about 18 other clinics in Kings County. Eight of them here in Hanford that provide most of the services offered here.

The clinic will close on December 31. The preventative health screenings for the elderly will close at the end of this month.

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kings county, local, jessica peres
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