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Maricopa County To Close Three Health And Nutrition Clinics

Bob England
(Photo courtesy of Maricopa County)
Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health plans to close three nutrition clinics in Avondale, Glendale and Mesa.

The clinics administer a program called Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, to serve pregnant women and kids under five.

WIC is funded by federal grant money. Grant recipients have to see a certain number of people each year to maintain funding levels. But the Department of Public Health hasn’t met its goal for several years. Closing the clinics will save money.

“So that we can move those services in with partners who are either providing us free rent, or decreased cost of rent,” said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The clinics will not close at the same time, and the WIC clients who use them will not lose access to services.

But England acknowledged WIC faces more trouble. He said unless the Department of Health finds more ways to creatively offer services “we’re in this inevitable downward spiral where, over a several year period of time, we just won’t be able to continue to perform the services."

Many local governments kick in cash subsidies to help meet the goal set by the federal government, England said. Maricopa County does not.

Federal requirements for WIC have become more complex over time, England said. County funding wouldn’t solve the problem, but it would help significantly.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.