MUKSEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Muskegon County commissioners with decide Tuesday if Planned Parenthood stays in the county health building or moves out.
The county health department says it needs the space, but Planned Parenthood says it’s a political move.
If you are going to the Muskegon County Health Department for a vaccine, you have to go into a small makeshift room built with cubical walls.
“It’s so small you don’t have any spots to do things,” county nurse Tammy Hamilton said. “You bring someone in here with a walker or a wheelchair, they just can’t get through the door.
“Our patients, our clients don’t want to share information, because who else is in the room hearing it?” she added.
Hamilton has worked for Muskegon County only months but says she already considered quitting because of the conditions.
The county says she’s the nurse who brought the problem to the public health director, Kathy Moore.
“For me, the real issue is when they (staff) say they feel like this is a confidentiality, HIPAA compliance issue as well as a safety issue, I felt obligated that I have to address it because of the potential liability after the fact. If they (staff) warn you, we (the county) do nothing, then something happens, then we (the county) are liable,” Moore said.
Hamilton said needles fall on the floor because of the tight working space, a loss of anywhere from $10 to $200 depending on the vaccine. There is only one sink, which is located outside of the makeshift room.
“We do have the hand sanitizers we use between patients, but especially with the blood contamination, you want that soap and water,” Hamilton said.
Just down the hall, Planned Parenthood has three rooms with real walls.
“To be honest, we are a little surprised when we heard about it last week,” Jim Norton with Planned Parenthood said. “It’s the first we heard any concern about us being in the Muskegon Health Department. So we certainly were surprised and really to this moment, we are trying to figure out the motivation behind it. “
Planned Parenthood has had a contract with the county since 2010 to operate out of the health department building.
The organization says it initially heard that the county wanted to move administrative staff into its current space. With the new information about immunization getting the rooms, it wonders if the move is political, especially because one county commissioner made kicking out Planned Parenthood one of his campaign promises.
“It doesn’t seem like this is a health care question right now,” Norton said. “It seems like there is a lot of politics. And unfortunately the only people that are going to be hurt are the 1,500 people in the county that receive their health care from Planned Parenthood of Michigan.”
County officials say they are not trying to shut down Planned Parenthood in the county, only move it out of the county building.
The county commissioners will vote on the issue at their Tuesday meeting, which starts at 3:30 p.m.