The Mecklenburg County Health Department is starting to make changes to clinics, medical records and staff. County commissioners were largely supportive Wednesday of the $4.6 million the county manager says it’ll take to fix problems discovered during outside investigations.
Since problems notifying patients is what spurred this investigation in the first place, the health department is going to update its electronic medical record system to allow patients to go online and access test results themselves. Now patients are sent letters. Clinics will have closer supervision, the department is hiring two more top level managers to help supervise the roughly 800 employees. And the call center and triage systems will be re-organized to help reduce patient wait times.
Commissioner Trevor Fuller asked if those and other changes will make the department state of the art.
“If we are going to spend $4.6 million of the public’s money I just want to know top line what are we going to get for that?”
County Manager Dena Diorio responded, “I think what we could say with a high level of certainty is anybody who walks into our health department would have the same experience that you or I would have going to your doctor. And they don’t have that today. And they deserve it.”
Diorio says the health department will start implementing the changes right away and expects it’ll take three years to complete them. Auditors also reviewed medical records dating back to 2014, to see how many patients with abnormal Pap smear test results may not have gotten the correct follow up care. Interim Health Director Gibbie Harris said those women have all been notified and are being scheduled for follow up visits.
“What we discovered is out of the abornmals there were 95 women who had not come back in for the test. Or we didn’t have documentation that they didn’t come back in,” Harris said. “They could have gotten in it somewhere else.”
Harris wasn’t clear about how many of those 95 women are part of the larger group of 185. It came to light earlier this year, they weren’t notified about their abnormal test results for several months.