Budget deficit threatens King County health clinics



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Posted on July 3, 2014 at 6:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 3 at 6:53 PM

SEATTLE -- Four King County Health clinics may soon shut their doors to thousands of patients and hundreds of employees. Two others will also close, but their patients and services may be absorbed by private partners.

"This was a grueling decision," said Community Health Services Director Patty Hayes. "We focus our services where people need them the most, so the impact of the services is going to be bad."

Facing a $15 million shortfall, the health department decided to close the clinics in its proposed budget. The final decision will come as the county votes on its budget in November.

The clinics facing closure are in Auburn, Bothell, Federal Way, White Center, Columbia City and North Seattle.  Services and clients at the Columbia City and North Seattle clinics would transfer to a private community partner.

Those cuts include programs that deal with contagious disease investigations, tobacco addiction and obesity prevention, as well as tracking deadly health trends.

Amber Arrington recently finished with Maternity Support Services.

"No job, no school. I just, yes, all the concerns, just feeling overwhelmed," she said.

Arrington learned basic parenting skills like nutrition, proper bathing techniques, how to differentiate her daughter’s cries and how to keep her safe.

"Just so that you can care for them properly without getting overwhelmed," she smiled. "I feel like I've learned some lifelong lessons and that I have an angel." 

If the cuts pass the budgetary process, employees would receive final termination notices in January.