County supervisors are considering $32 million in cuts that would close three of the county’s seven primary care clinics for the poor - Oak Park, Northeast and Capital Health Clinics.
Almost one hundred community health workers and residents packed the meeting room. One woman carried a cane, crying. Some were in wheelchairs, others were homeless.
Among those who testified was Cathy Streling. She has degenerative disk disease and says she depends on the clinics.
“It would really make it horrible because without seeing a doctor I have no prescriptions, I’ve managed to get out of a wheelchair and I don’t want to get back in it.”
Public health programs, in-home services and mental health care would also be scaled back. Many testifying warned of the impact on Emergency Rooms. Scott Seamons is with the Hospital Council.
“If the clinics close there’s anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 visits per year that will be shifted to the hospital emergency rooms.”
County Health and Human Services Director Lynn Frank says the cuts would be devastating.
“It would be great if we had some restorations, I don’t know how realistic that expectation is.”
That’s because the county faces an almost $70 million shortfall. It has until the end of the month to balance the budget.