Columnist Discusses Denial of Permit To Build Health Clinic Expected To Serve Low-Income Residents in North CarolinaRaleigh News & Observer staff writer Ruth Sheehan in a recent opinion piece discusses a vote by the Johnston County, N.C., commissioners that denied a zoning permit to build a clinic in a rural community. The clinic organizers had secured federal funding to operate the clinic and were planning to use donated land for the clinic, which would be located in one of "neediest parts" of the county, Sheehan writes (Sheehan, Raleigh News & Observer, 10/13).
Commissioners cited traffic concerns and opposition from neighborhood residents for denying the rezoning permit. The North Carolina Tri-County Community Health Council has filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging discrimination by the county commissioners. Tri-County runs six clinics in southeastern North Carolina that provide comprehensive dental, medical and mental health care. More than 50% of the council's patients in 2007 were Hispanic, and Hispanics make up more than 10% of the county's population (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 10/10).
According to Sheehan, one would "think the commissioners would greet" the new health care clinic project "with not only a 'Yes! Yes!' chorus, but also a second verse of 'Thank you! Thank you! What can we do to help?'"
According to Sheehan, "The opposing commissioners say race hasn't got doodley squat to do with the clinic denial," but "in the past, Johnston County has struggled with similar slam-dunk approvals when they involved Hispanic groups. And since [Hispanics] make up about half of Tri-County's patients at its other clinics, well ... the comparison is tempting." Sheehan adds that this is a "sore, sore issue for Johnston County" (Raleigh News & Observer, 10/13). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.