State and federal governments helping Fresno County help others with health issues

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The federal and state governments are helping Fresno County help those with mental health problems, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases. (KFSN)

The federal and state governments are helping Fresno County help those with mental health problems, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases.

After years of cutting personnel Fresno County is hiring, because of the Affordable Care Act and state fund the County's drug treatment programs are set to expand.

"So we are really looking forward to probably, almost, doubling the number of services available to individuals with substance abuse disorder," said Dawan Utecht, Director of Behavioral Health Fresno County.

To do that the Department of Behavioral Health is adding 35 positions, to oversee expanding drug treatment and prevention programs.

"We are also going to be looking to significantly expand prevention and, what we call, early intervention services which allows the opportunity to capture people before they become entrenched in substance abuse disorders," said Utecht.

The county's mental health services will also expand. The Department of Public Health is getting 10 new positions, mostly to help stop the spread of infectious diseases. The big problem right now is syphilis.

"We have experienced a huge increase in the number of cases of primary and secondary syphilis in the community in the past two years. Going along with that is the congenital syphilis, both primary, secondary, and congenital have increased ten fold since 2012," said Dr. Ken Bird, County Health Officer.

The rapidly spreading disease is a dangerous threat to the unborn, and can lead to miscarriages and birth defects. The hope is the additional personnel will help stop the spread of the disease. State and Federal Health workers have already been called in to help.

"My biggest concern is finding the individuals that are infected and infectious and getting them treated so no further infection occurs," said Dr. Bird.

The Board of Supervisors approved 45 additional positions in behavioral health and public health. They will be paid for with more than $4-million a year in federal and state funds.
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healthfresno countymental healthgrantjobs
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