County Health Department celebrates opening of new sexually transmitted diseases clinic

The resource wall at the new clinic.

A new clinic dedicated to low-barrier testing, treatment and prevention services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) officially opened Friday, Dec. 1, at the Snohomish County Health Department.

The clinic, at 3020 Rucker Avenue in Everett, adds crucial services:

Testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, as well as both rapid testing and blood draws for HIV.

Treatment options available for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis for individuals and their partners.

This expands on the health department’s existing STI program, which has been providing HIV testing, sexual health education, partner counseling, and referrals for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“I’m particularly grateful, thankful and understanding of the importance of the services that you provide to the public and to communities that otherwise would not have access,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers told Health Department staff and guests on Friday. “The opening today of these direct services is really a day to celebrate here in Snohomish County, and I’m very, very excited.”

The health department (then the Snohomish Health District) previously had a clinic, but it closed in 2009 due to funding. The return of an STI clinic has been 14 years in the making and is possible thanks to $975,000 in state funding received earlier this year to launch a two-year pilot project focused on reducing sexually transmitted infections.

“It’s important to have a place with low barriers where people can come, be safe, be who they are, and talk about what services they need to get diagnosed, treated, and work with getting their partners treated to interrupt that transmission in the community,” said Snohomish County Health Department Director Dennis Worsham. “It’s really an important public health role. We’re committed to go forward and do that here as part of our work.”

There have been increases in STIs, in Snohomish County and statewide.

  • Between 2009 and 2022, the case rate for gonorrhea more than quadrupled in Snohomish County.
  • Syphilis rates increased from less than 1 case per 100,000 county residents in 2009 to 11.1 cases per 100,000 residents in 2022.
  • The county also has seen multiple reported cases of congenital syphilis since 2021, after years with zero such cases. This is when a pregnant individual who is untreated passes syphilis to the baby.
  • While new HIV cases have not been on the rise, they still are regularly reported. There were more than 40 newly diagnosed cases countywide last year.

This clinic does not replace other health care resources in the community. Testing and treatment continue to be available from other health care providers including primary care and urgent care. The new clinic expands upon those resources and helps reduce barriers to care. People without a regular health care provider, without insurance, or who are unable or uncomfortable seeking testing or treatment through their regular provider or clinic can come to the health department for no-cost services.

“I came here in 2009 when the clinic closed, and I will tell you that it is a challenge being a physician in the community, seeing a patient, and then sending them into the void with the hope of follow-up and care,” said Dr. Ryan Keay, a physician with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and Snohomish County EMS. “I think that the opportunity of having a clinic like this that is open, collaborative, non-judgmental, that really provides wraparound services is vital, is unique, and has been a gap in our community for a long time.”

To reduce the spread of STIs, it is essential to treat active cases, notify people who have been exposed so they can get tested and treated, and provide information and resources for prevention. This clinic will make that easier for clients by bringing testing, treatment, and case management into the same space.

“It’s been a real honor to work with all of our staff here, especially the STI staff who have been working hard for years on this,” said Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. James Lewis. “And I just want to say that when you hear from those staff, they are supposed to be in your business. They are there to help you and they want you to get better, so please work with them. I know it can be alarming sometimes when you hear from some person you weren’t necessarily expecting to hear from about something that’s pretty private, so thank you for taking the time to work with them.”

Appointments are strongly encouraged but not required for the new clinic. Walk-ins will be seen as time allows. For more information, visit www.snohd.org/STIClinic.

 

  1. Wonderful. The Snohomish Health District was my place of employment for many years before one program after another was no longer funded and then basically a ghost town. This is a wonderful building and I hope that many of the offices which are huge can be utilized for many services for all programs and information throughout Snohomish County. It was my favorite job of my lifetime. Helping people in every single department. Thank you for this new clinic. It will be great and the personal touch does help with access to care. I know as that was my job. Filling the county with information, outreach and processing all state insurances for children and in some cases families for maternity coverage. We also helped with referrals from planned parenthood to access medicaid. I loved the clients I worked with. We had a DSHS rep too who did the actual processing. Environmental Department. You name it. Many great nurses and doctors and outreach workers, and staff worked there for so many years and truly cared about all of our community. Bravo.

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