Save Sonoma County Public Health Lab
Save Sonoma County Public Health Lab
Why this petition matters
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors: It is our hope that you will consider the long term, far reaching implications of closing or reducing SCPHL testing services. Before decisions are made regarding changes in SCPHL services, an independent analysis must be performed by subject matter experts selected by laboratory professionals. Reduction of lab services and/or staffing should be considered as an alternative to closing the entire lab.
Financial woes fluctuate, but one thing is constant: infectious diseases of public health importance will continue to emerge and resurge.
The Sonoma County Public Health Laboratory (SCPHL) is currently in need of your support. You may have seen this year’s grand jury report about the budget, and Press Democrat news articles about the Chanate Road property in Santa Rosa. The lab is located on the Chanate Road property, which Sonoma County is attempting to sell. In the next few years, a new laboratory facility is needed, but budget planning is starting now for this expensive facility. It is not certain that a new lab facility will be possible, or even that the current lab will remain operational, because of the current budget deficit facing Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS). Various solutions to the deficit are being sought by DHS leadership. Unfortunately, one of the potential cutbacks being considered by early 2020 is closing down the Sonoma County Public Health Laboratory. Closing down the laboratory would be disastrous for communicable disease control and surveillance in our area.
The SCPHL has been providing accurate and timely services to the region since 1951. The lab provides human and environmental testing services to Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Humboldt Counties. Communicable disease testing services include influenza, tuberculosis, whooping cough, sexually transmitted infections, and measles. Environmental services include testing local drinking water, river and ocean beaches, and farmed shellfish for fecal contamination; rabies testing; and testing ticks for Lyme disease. The lab facilitates the interaction between the health care community and state and federal agencies for unusual and exotic diseases, and provides training and reference testing to local clinical laboratories. The laboratory plays a key role in public safety by providing infectious disease data for local health policy planning, and emergency testing support to first responders and Northern California clinical laboratories. We are one of 4 laboratories in California that perform shellfish testing; one of California’s 14 CDC Laboratory Response Network-biological (LRN-B) labs; and the only local lab that performs dairy testing.
SCPHL is the last public health lab standing between the State lab in Richmond, CA and the Humboldt County lab. Essential public health lab functions need to be kept local to ensure timely lab services. Public Health Laboratories were not instituted to generate revenue; they provide public services to the entire population that commercial laboratories do not offer, such as disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, shellfish, dairy, and rabies testing. PHLs will always depend on some government funding to perform tests that are very time-consuming, not profitable and benefit individuals that cannot afford testing. Impacts to our community include:
Illness and death rates from communicable, food-borne, and water-borne diseases will increase in our County without accurate and timely lab results from a local public health laboratory.
Impaired emergency responses to novel influenza, measles, and other epidemics.
Loss of surveillance data from our local population means:
delayed detection of novel influenza strains, such as the 2009 H1N1
loss of representation for health policies that impact our region
difficulties developing health policies that are evidence-based
Negative financial impact on local dairy & shellfish businesses
Loss of hundreds of thousands of Federal grant dollars used to detect & prevent infectious diseases in your community.Please sign the petition to help prevent the situation from progressing to Beilenson hearings, which are required by law before public health service reductions occur.
Your vote to keep SCPHL open is a vote to maintain and not diminish a vigilant, strong public health system in Sonoma County.