Contact 13 Investigates
Services suffer as Health District crisis continues
Southern Nevada is in the throws of a public health crisis. That much, everyone agrees on. But how and why we got there is still being argued as officials search for a new home for the health district. Video by ktnv.comvideo
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Southern Nevada is in the throws of a public health crisis. That much, everyone agrees on. But how and why we got there is still being argued as officials search for a new home for the health district.
Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears was there Thursday as the county board of health meeting turned into a blame game.
The health district accused their board of years of delays and inaction, but some board members say our public health problems go way beyond an old, outdated building. What's clear is that the public isn't being serviced effectively or efficiently.
The Southern Nevada Health District's services have been scattered, interrupted and in some cases, unavailable since the sudden closure of its headquarters in mid-April.
"We are not providing a number of health services that are essential to protect our community," Rory Chetelat with the Southern Nevada Health District said.
The district moved out of its Shadow Lane headquarters after the structural engineer they hired said it was too dangerous to stay. But board member Bob Beers said city building inspectors can't find a reason to red-tag it.
"We've always known it's an old, ugly, outpaced building," Chris Giunchigliani with the board of health said. "I don't believe we needed to close it. I think a crisis was created in order to get to this point."
To make their point about needing a better building, the district told board members we're among the lowest in the nation for childhood immunizations and prenatal care, and we lead the country in congenital syphilis cases.
Giunchigliani, who's been on the board of health for five years, says problems with the health district's programs go way beyond a building.
"When you hear that the movie that they offer for the health cards is 35 years old or older and has not been updated, then it makes you wonder what is really going on managerially," she said.
District leaders say their building problems have been have been well known for years, and finding a facility should have been more urgent for the board.
"Because we didn't act on finding a temporary solution fast enough, now we're being asked to make a desperate decision that I do not think is fiscally in the taxpayers' best interest," Anita Wood with the board of health said.
According to district management, the building closure has cut immunization rates in half, thereby putting the public at risk for transmission of preventable diseases.
The Health District says their biggest crisis right now is clinic space--needing somewhere to do sports physicals, sexual health exams and daycare exams. The Board approved an immediate move in for clinic space here at the 400 Shadow Lane building, so clinics should be up and running by June 1st. Cost to taxpayers? About $10,000 a month.