Arizona: County's STD Clinic Short on Staffing
May 9, 2006
Last month, the only public STD clinic in Maricopa County turned away patients 680 times due to a staffing shortage. The county Department of Public Health's walk-in STD clinic has turned away clients an average of 600 times in recent months, said Dr. Bob England, the department's interim director since February.
The backlog comes amid an increase in the number of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. Over the past five years, the number of chlamydia cases in Arizona rose by 58 percent to almost 22,000, while the number of gonorrhea cases rose by 16 percent to more than 5,200, the state Department of Health Services said.
Client backlog has been driven by staffing shortages and turnover in the health department. "We're having the same problems with shortages of nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other health care workers that other health care facilities are having," England said. He has asked the county for $751,000 to hire 14 additional workers at the clinic, including two nurses and six communicable-disease investigators.
England also wants other medical providers, including community health centers, to accept referrals from the clinic. The referred clients could have private insurance, state Medicaid coverage or could potentially qualify for county reimbursement.
However, a long-term solution will require more STD clinics to serve the county's growing, far-flung population. "We need to have multiple sites where people can be treated rather than one overcrowded downtown site," said England.
05.06.06; Kerry Fehr-Snyder
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.