Local health district has a grim future

Local health district has a grim future »Play Video
Decline in use of the health districts is expected
CLARKSTON, WA - The Washington State Secretary of Health is in town today visiting with local leaders.

Secretary John Wiesman and other leaders talk about the grim future for the local health district.

Based on tentative budget numbers for next year, the future of the Asotin County Health District looks bleak. And Wiesman didn't have much better news for the county. He said moving forward, the state is looking for partnerships with local resources like hospitals.

"We are looking at what are those essential core services that have to be provided anywhere in order for them to be effective," said Wiesman.

"Hopefully we'll be able to continue some immunizations but we will have to reduce somewhere," said Asotin County Health District Administrator Brady Woodbury.

According to Woodbury, the decline in federal and local funding is to blame. The cuts are forcing them to lay off two of their nurses next year from an already bare bones staff of just three.

"That would put an awful burden on one individual," said Warren.

The city of Clarkston and the city of Asotin don't contribute dollars to the health district. Clarkston Mayor Kathleen Warren said some city council members believe paying a tax for the health district, on top of dollars they already pay to the county, is double taxation.

"I can't speak for the council because I think we should be contributing," said Warren.

"How do we really come together to address the priority needs of communities and I think that's what we're all focused on, that's the path forward, and bringing citizens into that process and forming coalitions," said Weisman.

As more people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, a decline in the use of the health districts is expected.

Right now, there are still nearly 3,400 uninsured people in Asotin County.