Staff shortage at STD clinic impacting some people wanting testing

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An employee of the Kansas City Health Department contacted FOX 4, concerned that people are being turned away from the sexually transmitted disease clinic. So we checked into it.

More than 9,200 times last year, someone passed through the door at the health department needing to be tested or treated for an STD. Deputy director Bert Malone says the clinic is short two nurses now, and that’s meant some people are being told to come back later.

“If someone is there, present with symptoms, they will do everything possible to get that person seen today. Where we have reduced the number of individuals seen or asked them to make an appointment have been individuals just coming in to be tested. They have no symptoms. They just want to be tested,” said Malone.

Malone says the department will re-assign some staff to the STD clinic in “the next week or so” to alleviate the shortage.

Visits to the clinic dropped 11 percent last year. That occurred as cases of chlamydia, the most common STD, and gonorrhea dropped. Still, the department diagnosed more than 5,500 cases of those two diseases. And cases of syphilis are rising. There were 211 confirmed last year.

“We’re dealing aggressively with sexual contacts of individuals who have been diagnosed with syphilis. That is a priority. Be aware that the diseases are out there. Use protection as best you can,” said Malone.

Protection with condoms can prevent disease and visits to the health department clinic.

The health department says it’s been down two positions in the STD clinic for four months. Again, Malone says the clinic should get more help in the next week or so.

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