Sen. Kim David (R-Porter) announced Thursday that bond authorization for construction of a new state public health lab (PHL) will be considered in the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget later this session.
“The state’s only public health lab is a crumbling piece of state infrastructure that needs to be replaced. The lab provides critical newborn screenings for several serious health conditions, allowing parents to seek essential treatment to improve health outcomes for their children,” said David, Senate Appropriations Chairwoman. “Because of the unique and important function of the lab, I want to make sure we explore every option and continue the conversation about the best way to address this crucial state need.”
The Oklahoma State PHL is the state’s only lab that performs newborn screenings and does so for every child born in the state. The PHL screens each newborn blood spot for 54 genetic and metabolic disorders, some of which are life threatening. The PHL is also the frontline response to communicable diseases, food-borne illnesses and complex biological agents.
SB 236 authorizes a bond issue for just over $58 million in order to construct a new PHL. The current Oklahoma state PHL is over 40 years old and is at risk of being unaccredited, which would force the lab to close.
“We are in a position where we can invest $4 million annually in a new lab or spend up to three times that to pay another state to do it for us and put our citizens at risk in the case of a health emergency such as Ebola or Zika. It makes the most sense to invest that money in this critical piece of state infrastructure,” David said.