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Des Moines County Public Health looks to fill reproductive health care gap

The Hawk Eye - 9/6/2017

Sept. 06--The Des Moines County Board of Supervisors reported an influx in calls and emails from citizens asking the board to support a proposed county-run Planned Parenthood replacement clinic.

One citizen, Ann Distelhorst of Burlington, even showed up to lobby in person.

"It would be irresponsible for the board to walk away while that Title X federal grant money is on the table," Distelhorst said.

A committee of local public health workers and officials recently agreed Des Moines County should provide a replacement option for about 2,100 previous patients of Burlington'sPlanned Parenthood location. The Planned Parenthood branch closed in June after the Iowa Legislature denied it any federal funding.

With a recommendation by the county health board, the matter now has moved into the supervisors' agenda.

If approved, the county would apply for the same federal money clinics like Planned Parenthood use. Their facility would provide contraceptives, birth control, counseling, pregnancy testing, fertility testing, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, preventative education, gynecology, male and female physical checkups and other general family-planning services. Services would be provided on a sliding fee scale, so the poorest people can still afford its services.

Des Moines County has the second-highest rate of sexually transmitted infections in Iowa, according to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program. The program is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The board has a workshop discussion scheduled after its Sept. 19 meeting to contend with the issue.

Other business

Last week, the Des Moines County jail was one inmate away from being forced to house inmates in Washington County's jail. Both Lee and Louisa county jails were full.

Des Moines County had 98 inmates last Friday and 94 this Tuesday.

Big Hollow Recreation Area had a busy Labor Day weekend. The conservation department made over $6,000 over the weekend, according to Conservation Director Chris Lee.

A pavemen-marking crew is in the county this week putting new lines on paved roads. Don't try to pass or get too close while they're painting, warned County Engineer Brian Carter, or you'll end up with a different-colored car.

Next week, the board will have a long-awaited talk to make another draft of a county dog ordinance. The conversation will happen in a work session following the board's 9 a.m. meeting.

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(c)2017 The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

Visit The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa) at www.thehawkeye.com

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