Council Hears Options For Public Health Office

Community Services Director Brian Brogan gives a report on the Los Alamos Public Health Office during the April 3 County Council meeting. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/ladailypost.com
 
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
kirsten@ladailypost.com
 
Regarding the Public Health Office in Los Alamos, the Los Alamos County Council faces two choices: either continue the office as is or contract with a Federally Qualified Health Center while the New Mexico Department of Health provides supplemental services.
 
County Community Services Department Director Brian Brogan presented these two options to County Council Tuesday, during its regular meeting in Council Chambers.
 
Although it was not presented for approval during the Council meeting, several Councilors spoke in favor of contracting with a Federally Qualified Health Center. To do so, they will need to consider approving a $50,000 budget add-on in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.
The issue with the current service is that it is pretty bare bones due to cuts in state funding.
 
According to Brogan’s presentation, the office has one staff member and the office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first and third Tuesday of the month. The office is at 1183 Diamond Dr., Suite D across from the Los Alamos High School. Additionally, Brogan reported while the local office provides some services, most are referred to the Rio Arriba Public Health Office.  
 
The Los Alamos Public Health Office Offers:
  • Tuberculosis treatment;
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease testing and treatment;
  • Immunizations for children younger than 18 years old;
  • Human immunodeficiency virus counseling and testing;
  • Breast and cervical cancer screenings;
  • Family Planning but services are limited in Los Alamos;
  • Women Infant and Children (WIC) Program but it is only staffed every second Thursday of the month; and
  • Children’s Medical Service Program (CMS) but it is by appointment only.
If the County Council chooses to contract with a Federally Qualified Health Center, it would provide the Public Health Office more hours of operation and more services.
 
According to Brogan’s presentation, the proposed hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. two days a week for students and 4 to 6:30 p.m. for the general public.
 
If approved, the Federally Qualified Health Center would begin operating in six months to a year.
 
Proposed services, Brogan reported, include:  
  • Family Planning;
  • Primary medical care;
  • All standard medical procedures;
  • Annual or sports physicals;
  • Well child;
  • Behavioral health services;
  • Immunizations;
  • Diabetes prevention and control;
  • Nutrition counseling;
  • Weight management; and
  • Asthma services.
 
Brogan further offered what the Department of Health’s supplemental services would be:
  • Women, infant and children care;
  • Child Medical Service Program; and
  • others as appropriate.
 
Several County Councilors said they hoped contracting with a Federally Qualified Health Center could be done as soon as possible.
 
Councilor Pete Sheehey said this is a priority item and he felt it should be done as quickly as possible.
 
Councilor Susan O’Leary echoed Sheehey’s thoughts, saying she thought the issue could be put on the agenda for the next County Council meeting. She added she was frustrated with the state cutting its funding in this area. “It’s not OK; the state should be paying for this,” she said.
 
Councilor Antonio Maggiore also agreed. “This is a situation we have to get resolved. Any services are better than the absolute dirt we are currently facing,” he said.
 
Council Chair David Izraelevitz said the option to contract with the Federally Qualified Health Center really is the only option. “This is the highest priority,” he said.
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