The race to find enough funding to keep the Auburn Public Health Clinic open just got a nice boost from local funders, but it’s not enough to prevent closure in January.
More cities, nonprofits and businesses still need to step up to help thousands of South King County’s most vulnerable women maintain access to family-planning services, as well as support programs for mothers and newborns.
On Wednesday, King County Executive Dow Constantine and other county leaders announced a coalition has come forward and pledged between $550,000 to about $700,000 total to help Public Health — Seattle & King County offset a revised shortfall of about $1.6 million to keep the only standalone family-planning clinic (and its two satellite offices) accessible.
Here’s the key date for the community to act: Nov. 17. On that day, the Metropolitan King County Council is set to vote on the budget for the next two years. A blueprint will be revealed about a week before.
The more funds can be identified before then, the less likely the county will have to consider peeling off resources from other critical service areas.
At the end of the day, this is a stopgap measure until funding at the county, state and federal government levels prioritize funding to keep up with demand. The price of not maintaining the Auburn Public Health Clinic could be high, as outlined in a Seattle Times editorial published last Thursday:
Nearly 2,000 women are at risk of losing access to birth control. If they can’t find help elsewhere, Public Health estimates the site’s closure could lead to as many as 576 unintended pregnancies in the first year.
This would be a setback for King County, where the teen pregnancy rate has only recently started to fall. Auburn School District’s teen pregnancy rate is the third highest in the county.
The funding partners announced so far include the cities of Auburn, Algona and Pacific, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Group Health Foundation and Orion Industries. The latter business manufactures metal for the aerospace industry, but clearly understands the need for Public Health’s services in a region with a high concentration of low-income families.
Constantine said he will continue to find partners, but time is running out.
Who else will step up to the task of protecting critical prevention services for women and infants?