Service Interruption 

Last fiscal year was worse for Title X services than previously reported.

Shelby County, the largest recipient of Tennessee's Title X funding, passed up more than one-third of its federal family-planning dollars for the last fiscal year.

Christ Community Health Services, which received a $397,000 Title X contract with the Shelby County Health Department last October, only used $143,631 of its 2012 funding. The county health department did not use all of its Title X funding either, as was reported in last week's Flyer cover story.

All told, around $572,000 of Shelby County's $1,345,000 Title X grant did not get used between July 2011 and June 2012.

According to Margaret Major, director of women's health and genetics for the state health department, the county does not retain unused Title X funds, nor do they roll over into the next fiscal year.

"If the county doesn't use the money, it will go to someone else," Major said.

Title X services are federally funded family-planning services that provide underserved patients with pap smears, breast exams, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, and more. Shelby County routinely receives the largest portion of these federal funds from the state, based on its population, birth rate, demographics, and demonstrated need.

Last year, in what Yvonne Madlock, director of the county health department, has called "a year of essentially transition," Title X funding was diverted from longtime Title X family-planning provider Planned Parenthood to Christ Community Health Services.

The result was a drastically reduced number of Title X patient visits in Shelby County. Christ Community, which Madlock says was busy transitioning to its new role as the Title X service provider, did not sign the Title X contract until March, five months after the contract was awarded. In the meantime, the number of Title X patient visits to Christ Community dropped, while the health department maintained its usual number of Title X visits.

"I think all of us had some gearing up to do in order to be able to create the level of staff available to provide the services and communication with the community as to where services are available," Madlock said. "Change takes time. Systems have to ramp up."

The county health department has yet to release the Title X funding Shelby County received for fiscal year 2013. As of August 14th, Madlock said the state had not yet notified the county of the Title X award for fiscal year 2013. But Susan Barber of the state health department said otherwise.

"Those contracts are already in process now," Barber said. "Shelby County Health Department was already given that amount. Sometimes, there are circumstances that come up, and it might have to be amended. But they were already given an amount. They already know."

When pressed again on August 21st, Madlock said the Title X grant amount for 2013 had arrived that afternoon, and she would need to share it with Shelby County mayor Mark Luttrell's office and Christ Community before sharing it with the public. As of press time, Madlock had still not reached Christ Community and was reticent to release the information.

"The leadership at Christ Community was out of town last week. I haven't been able to reach them," Madlock said. "My business values tell me I need to talk to my partner and my contractor about that first. If his calendar accommodates, I should have the ability to release that information then."

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