Clinic moved due to health worries

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate January 25, 2013 02:26 pm

Services to return to Smith River after problems resolved 

Medical services at the Howonquet Clinic in Smith River have been temporarily moved to United Indian Health Services’ Crescent City and Klamath locations due to air quality concerns in the Smith River building. 

Clients can call the usual phone numbers for information on current UIHS services in Del Norte and to find out where they can go until the Smith River clinic is restored.

In late December, several employees at the Smith River facility exhibited similar symptoms common to air quality issues, like watery eyes and a scratchy throat, according to UIHS officials. 

The medical side of the Howonquet clinic, which also houses dental and behavioral health services, was relocated while UIHS worked hand-in-hand with the building owner, Smith River Rancheria, to identify the problem. 

After a thorough cleaning of the HVAC system and test results not showing signs of the usual suspects like mold and carbon monoxide, the Howonquet medical facilities were returned to the site, UIHS officials said. 

But when the medical employees again experienced the same symptoms, all operations in the Howonquet Clinic were relocated.

“We are assuming it’s air but haven’t had any positive tests to confirm that, and we are still working on the source of that problem,” said Randall Barnoskie,  administrative services director of UIHS.  “We are as baffled as anyone else.”

UIHS officials expect more test results to come in this week from testing completed last week that they hope will identify the problem. 

“It’d be nice if we can find the problem and start working on it,” Barnoskie said.

Rancheria officials could not be reached for comment.

The air quality environmental regulatory agency overseeing Del Norte has not received any other complaints of problems in the area, officials said.

UIHS staff emphasized that the relocation is temporary and once the problem has been identified and resolved, UIHS intends to reopen the Howonquet Health Center in Smith River.

The Crescent City site will continue to operate until staff members confirm there is no longer a problem in Smith River.

“Our staff has really pulled together and they are handling this well,” Barnoskie said. 

Medical services are being provided Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Klamath Health Clinic. Dental Services are available at the Crescent City site (1675 Northcrest Drive) noon-5 p.m. daily.

Behavioral Health Services usually provided at Smith River have been transfered to the Elk Valley Office, 2298 Norris Ave.  Prescriptions usually destined for Smith River will be available for pickup at the Crescent City site noon-5 p.m. daily.

Crescent City services can be reached at the following telephone numbers:

• Medical, (707) 464-2250

• Dental, (707) 464-2583

• Pharmacy, (707) 464-2663

Reach Adam Spencer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it