Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dallas' Clinic Closings

I've been watching with a lot of interest the developments of the city of Dallas closing three clinics that provide services to the poor and needy. The closings would save the city nearly $3 million, and city officials were claiming the services could be absorbed by the county. Many, including myself, were concerned the move would leave a lot of folks without an outlet for practical health services, including immunizations.

Some have said Parkland would be a perfectly fine alternative, but sitting in the emergency room for six to eight hours is hardly practical. Parkland's outpatient program, which operates clinics in various locations, is already so overburdened that new patients have to wait three months after they qualify to get a doctor's appointment. There needs to be a place for immediate attention outside of the total beating of waiting at Parkland.

I doubted the county could take on the burden immediately, and after seeing news reports in the Morning News that people were being turned away at city clinics because nurses were already quitting ahead of the closure, I became more concerned. Thankfully, it looks like the city is taking the welfare of the working poor seriously.

I emailed several councilmembers about the situation, and only District 1 councilwoman Delia Jasso followed through with me. She forwarded to me a memo from assistant city manager Forest Turner to city administration that they have been working with the county to transfer their state grants to them so there would be no lapse in service. The city has informed the state of the plan and the city will be briefed on the progress in early September.

I'm glad to see the city is actually taking the needs of its citizens into account here. It would have been so easy to pass the buck and make it someone else's problem, so let's hope this works without a gap in service. I was critical of Ms. Jasso during the election, but she and her staff have been great in addressing the issue and keeping me informed. Kudos to them for their work in following up and their professionalism.

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