Missouri county health department drops STD treatment

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — St. Charles County near St. Louis will no longer offer treatment and testing for sexual transmitted diseases (STD) through its public health, local media reported on Thursday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that after today, no more appointments would be allowed for the STD clinic’s nurse practitioner. Health department director Hope Woodson said those needing STD care would be referred to St. Louis County.

From the Post-Dispatch:

“It’s closing under its current model, and we’re opening the door to do so much more services that our community really needs and wants,” Woodson said.

A reorganized clinic opening in 2018 will add travel immunizations, cholesterol checks, glucose tests and other health screenings to the county’s services, Woodson said. There will be limited STD screenings but no exams or treatment offered. The new clinic will not include the nurse practitioner, who has been offered another position in the county, according to Woodson.

“Our thought was there are a lot of requests that come in that outweigh the STD (demand),” Woodson said. “Our goal is to answer to our population, and right now I don’t feel that we’re serving our population the best that we possibly can.”

A St. Louis County spokesman said their public STD clinics saw 9,000 to 9,500 patients a year and would be able to handle the additional traffic from St. Charles. A Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Peters also expects to absorb some of the STD patients.

An appointment at the St. Charles STD clinic cost $20 and included blood testing for syphilis and HIV and culture testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Women also received pelvic exams. By eliminating the exams and offering rapid STD testing, the health department will be able to serve more people, according to spokesman Doug Bolnick.

The newspaper reported that the number of sexually transmitted diseases in St. Charles County has been trending upward. There were 296 cases of chlamydia, 56 cases of gonorrhea and eight cases of syphilis reported in the county. That had risen to 1,136 cases of chlamydia, 266 cases of gonorrhea and 27 cases of syphilis by 2016, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The Post-Dispatch also reported that the city of St. Louis has the country’s highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea among any county or independent city. The city refers testing and treatment to independent clinics.