Opinion

Take action to keep Federal Way Public Health Clinic open | Editor's Note

Public Health Center supporters wear T-shirts that state “Danger, these cuts can kill,” at a recent Federal Way City Council meeting. - Bruce Honda, contributed
Public Health Center supporters wear T-shirts that state “Danger, these cuts can kill,” at a recent Federal Way City Council meeting.
— image credit: Bruce Honda, contributed

When I was 19 years old and pregnant with my first baby, a kind nurse visited me at my Des Moines home each month. She measured my growing belly, tracked my weight gain, discussed my nutritional needs and answered my questions.

She spoke with me about my apprehension as a young, low-income mother, what childbirth would be like and how I could adjust to a new baby. Her help was invaluable.

During that time, I was a freshman at Highline College and working full-time as a cashier at a department store, so I qualified for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. I received health screening, breastfeeding support and vouchers for nutritious foods, such as milk, peanut butter, cereal and dried beans.

Without the help of the King County Public Health’s maternity support services, my son — who is now a Running Start student at Highline College — may not have turned out as healthy as he did.

There are many people in Federal Way who also rely on services they receive from the local Public Health Clinic.

As the Mirror has reported in recent weeks, the Federal Way clinic, and three others in the area, could be shuttered due to the county’s growing budget deficit. King County and city officials have discussed the numbers, statistics and price tag of $1.1 million annually that is needed in Federal Way alone to keep the clinic here open.

But the most important number I see is 13,700 — the number of people who need essential health care services in Federal Way each year and low-income people who could become very sick without them.

Some of these people hit the streets in Auburn — where another clinic is set to close — last week to protest the proposed closures. There are many other stories like mine, including mother-of-four Nadia Bucio’s, who stood outside the Auburn clinic trying to make her voice heard.

“I get WIC for my kids. I have a 3-year-old and I also come to family planning. It is very important,” Bucio told the Auburn Reporter.

The Federal Way City Council and Mayor Jim Ferrell officially opposed the county’s plans to close the clinics during its recent meeting. It’s a great first step and I look forward to watching our elected leaders back that up with action.

During that Council meeting, one council member also asked what elected officials should tell residents if the clinic closes. That’s premature and defeatist. The right question is, what should we do to prevent the closures?

For city leaders, I anticipate part of the answer to that will be having conversations with county and neighboring city leaders and residents.

Residents should stay vocal, whether that’s planning more protests in the affected cities, or writing letters to elected and city officials. I also encourage you to keep the conversation going by emailing a letter to the editor to: editor@federalwaymirror.com.


 

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