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Low-cost clinic closures get Spanish Town Hall spotlight

The pending closure of Washington County’s two remaining low-cost healthcare clinics took center stage at the eighth Spanish Town Hall in Cornelius last Saturday.

“Everyone deserves a comprehensive health care plan,” Marni Kuyl, director of the Washington County Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) told a crowd of about 30 in the Cornelius City Council chambers as she explained the expected June 30 shuttering of clinics in Hillsboro and Beaverton.

The county’s plans to transition out of providing direct clinical services to low-income and high-risk clients was announced last December, and in February, the County Board of Commissioners approved the recommendation to close the Beaverton clinic at 12550 S.W. Second Ave., and the Hillsboro clinic at 266 W. Main St.

“We have been in in-depth conversations with local safety net providers, such as Virginia Garcia [Memorial Health Center], Neighborhood Health Center, SW Community Health Center, and Planned Parenthood,” said Kuyl. “They all indicated an interest and capacity to serve more patients from the Cornelius and Forest Grove communities.”

Kuyl pointed out that the Beaverton and Hillsboro clinics never provided full care. “Under the new plan, the county will continue to provide the same core public health programs it has in the past,” she said, “but starting in July, you’ll be able to be treated for such things as asthma, or other chronic conditions, obtain birth control, STD services and get immunizations all in one place.”

Information from the county indicated commissioners will allocate $500,000 each year for at least five years to licensed and qualified clinics that will make primary care available to as many as 4,000 patients, and preventative care to approximately 2,100 uninsured patients. In addition, nearly $300,000 in Title X funds will be passed through to a provider for reproductive health and family planning for at least 3,000 uninsured or underinsured patients annually.

When asked about the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and urgent care, Kuyl said WIC would continue, and indicated DHS officials were working on a plan to offer more evening urgent care in addition to the current Monday and Thursday services at SW Community Health.

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