US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary visits Flint

FLINT, Mich. (WLNS) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Sylvia Burwell was in Flint Thursday to meet with doctors and local leadership in the community to talk about the ongoing recovery effort after the water crisis.

“We see our role right now as a role that’s important in terms of supporting the local community,” Burwell said.

Today secretary Burwell announced $500,000 in emergency funding for health systems in Flint; $250,000 for the Hamilton Community Health Network and $250,000 for the Genesee Health System.

Congressman Dan Kildee sees the problem of old pipes, but recognizes the more pressing issue.

“The real impact of this is not infrastructure. The real impact is health,” Kildee said.

With nearly 9,000 children exposed to lead, Secretary Burwell emphasized the need for testing those affected by lead.

“We are focused on getting as many people tested as quickly as possible,” Burwell said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Giacalone appreciates the federal funding.

“We know that we will be able to utilize it for lead testing for follow up of patients uh who might require immediate treatment for their exposure to lead,” Giacalone said.

However, Congressman Kildee is disappointed in the state’s efforts to help its own city.

“Frankly I don’t think they’ve come even close to stepping up to the level that’s equal to the gravity of this problem,” Kildee said.

For now, HHS officials are focused on getting clean, safe water into the community and making sure they understand the extent of the damages in the long run.

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