Allegheny County temporarily closes WIC offices in Springdale, Mt. Oliver
The Allegheny County Health Department has closed two Women, Infants, and Children offices without explanation until at least the end of the year.
The Health Department did not provide specifics Wednesday to the Tribune-Review, on its website or in a letter to program participants on why it closed the offices.
A letter to Springdale WIC participants said only that the closure of the office at 830 Pittsburgh St. was the result of “unforeseen circumstances.”
The Mt. Oliver WIC office at the UPMC South Pittsburgh Health Center, 1630 Arlington Ave., also closed.
Eight other WIC offices remain open.
WIC is a federal health and supplemental nutrition program that offers a variety of services for medically or nutritionally at-risk mothers and children. It’s funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered locally by the Allegheny County Health Department.
Hanifa Nakiryowa, a global health associate for The Jewish Healthcare Foundation who co-authored a report published in May on Pennsylvania’s WIC Program, said not having easy access to a WIC office could potentially hurt families.
“The WIC program helps to assure healthy pregnancies and supports growth and development for moms, children and their families,” Nakiryowa said. “It also has the potential, as we’ve seen in many places throughout the country and in sites in Pennsylvania, to be the front door for families to access other necessary services at critical times and in critical circumstances.
“Losing such a pivotal program could not only be detrimental for families and ultimately lead to poorer health outcomes, but will lead to higher costs of care down the road,” Nakiryowa added.
The Health Department said people with upcoming appointments at the Springdale office will be able to keep their appointment date and time, but would have to go to the Turtle Creek WIC office at 519 Penn Ave.
That’s about 15 to 20 miles from the Springdale office, depending on the route.
The department encouraged clients of the Mt. Oliver office to attend appointments at the Downtown Pittsburgh location, on the third floor of the Investment Building, 239 Fourth Ave.
A notice posted on the county’s website said the closure of the offices took effect Tuesday and would continue through the end of December or possibly into January.
“We do apologize for this inconvenience,” the health department’s WIC team wrote in a Sept. 12 letter to Springdale program participants. “Please try to keep your appointment since we will be limited in appointments at other locations. If you need to reschedule, there may be a 4 to 6 week wait until the next available appointment.”
The department advised people to call 724-274-6411 to discuss options.