Skagit County Health Department is changing direction and will be ending clinical services such as immunizations, in part as a resulf of the Affordable Care Act.
Effective April 1, 2015 the County will no longer offer immunizations to children under age 19, and family planning and sexually transmitted disease (STD) services at the Health Department. Immunization services for all adults will be discontinued by June 30, 2015, but sexually transmitted disease partner notification and treatment services will still be provided.
People seeking clinical services no longer provided by the County will be encouraged to sign up for a health plan and establish a patient-centered medical home. Clinical services including vaccinations will be provided by other health care partners including physicians, clinics, hospitals, federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and pharmacists.
“We are proud of our record of commitment to public health,” said Jennifer Johnson, Director of Skagit County Public Health & Community Services (SCPHCS). “These changes reflect goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to support the integration of prevention and primary care to improve health outcomes.”
Skagit County Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand emphasized the national goal of a “medical home” such as a family practice physician for everyone, from infant to elderly. Health care, he said, is ideally provided on an ongoing basis, as opposed to emergency treatment only.
“We want to take the latest opportunity provided by ACA to remove barriers and reduce the fragmentation of personal health care,” said the Health Officer. “We have been providing some services to a ‘gap’ population that can now be served through the ACA. As we encourage the transition to one-on-one health care for all, we are in an improved position to focus County resources on population based prevention, notification and investigation.”
Johnson added: “We want Skagit County residents to know we will continue to work with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the state Department of Health and community partners to prioritize the prevention of communicable diseases ranging from influenza to Ebola.”
Ongoing education and notification efforts by County health staff include entities and organizations ranging from day care facilities to schools, hospitals to health clinics.
“With our new partnership and a new framework for clinical services,” said Johnson, “we can intensify our efforts to keep our population healthy through training and assurance, and we will be able to focus more on community and provider education as well as chronic disease prevention.”