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Health Department Services in Jeopardy As Shutdown Continues

WASHINGTON COUNTY, AR -- The Washington County Health Department says one program it offers is solely dependent on federal funding.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, AR -- Like a green leaf in autumn, programs at the Washington County Health Department are hanging on by a thread as we approach day No. 8 of the government shutdown.

"We're still continuing to serve our clients at the moment...eventually we would have to make a decision," says Robin Thomas, administrator at the Washington County Health Department.

All of it's programs use some federal funding.

"Family planning services, maternity services... immunizations," Thomas describes.

But one in particular is 100 percent dependent on it that funding: the Women Infant and Children program, or WIC.

"The Women Infant and Children program is a food supplemental program," Thomas says.

"It offers things like milk and cereals and beans and other staple items for your diet."

And it serves some 6,500 people countywide, whose plates could be scraped at any time.

"They're not affected now," Thomas says.

"Fortunately, the USDA has stepped in and offered funding to help us carry on on a week-by-week basis."

So for now -- costs are covered.

Thomas adds the USDA plans to provide for as long as it can.

But uncertainty still surrounds many essentials few could live without it, as the shutdown creeps even further into fall.

"I think there would be some concern if the government shutdown were to continue," Thomas says.

"You know down the road a few more weeks, would definitely cause us some concerns."
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