Lead-testing hotline goes live Monday morning; 3 walk-in clinics to open offering free blood tests

MILWAUKEE -- Beginning Monday, Jan. 22, families in Milwaukee will be able to visit walk-in clinics around the city so children can be tested for lead exposure.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced the outreach initiative Friday, Jan. 19 in response to ongoing concerns at the Milwaukee Health Department that residents aren't being properly notified about the elevated levels. Letters will be sent by Monday, alerting parents that their child needs additional testing or services based on the initial lead testing results. Some or all of the impacted families may have already received a similar letter in the past, but if they didn't, Mayor Barrett said children were put in unnecessary danger.

Each year, city leaders say approximately 25,000 children in Milwaukee are tested for lead exposure. While the results come back instantaneously, Mayor Barrett said the Health Department may not have sent out any follow-up information between 2015 and 2017 to parents whose children had elevated levels.

Bevan Baker

"The intensive review of these records in the past has shown us that far too many children received the preliminary test results without a subsequent confirmatory test," Mayor Barrett said.

Health Commissioner Bevan Baker resigned amid the scandal and Milwaukee Common Council members have since ordered an investigation. The city is also sending a letter to more than 6,400 homes, which states that one or more of your children may need additional testing or services based on results from a previous lead test.

"My hope is that that was a bookkeeping problem and that individuals were in fact contacted, but out of the abundance of caution, because this is a serious issue, that's why we are taking the steps we are today," Mayor Barrett said.

The letter goes on to advise people to contact their medical provider or visit one of three walk-in clinics set up by the Health Department.

  • Southside Clinic: Monday and Tuesday
  • Northwest: Wednesday
  • Keenan: Friday

"At these clinics, families will receive a review of their child's lead history, information and resources on preventing lead exposure and most importantly, free blood lead testing," Barrett said.

A hotline will also go live Monday morning. Parents can call (414) 286-8800 with questions about clinic hours and other resources. Keep in mind, you cannot receive any medical records through the hotline. You must go to the clinic in person for that information.

The letters are expected to arrive in the mail between Monday and Wednesday.