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“Going to inform every family:” City of Milwaukee opens 3 clinics for free lead testing

MILWAUKEE -- The letters are out and it is time to test. The first of three City of Milwaukee Health Department clinics opened on Monday, Jan. 22 for free lead testing.

The exam rooms at the clinics will soon be seeing an influx of people. More than 6,400 families are getting a letter alerting parents their child needs additional testing or services based on initial lead testing results.

"We are going to inform every family who had an elevated blood level of 5-20 over the last 3 years of the services the city has," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

This, after the City of Milwaukee was unable to confirm it sent follow-up letters. It is an issue Alderman Michael Murphy said is being looked into.

Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy

"We are looking to hire an outside audit firm to review the Milwaukee Health Department, including their activities on health as it relates to lead. In addition, an internal investigation by our own city clerk's office," Murphy said.

Despite the miscommunication and fallout where Bevan Baker resigned as Health Commissioner, Mayor Barrett said he is confident those with the highest elevated levels were indeed alerted.

"We believe the vast majority of individuals we are contacting have already been contacted by primary care provide or WIC clinic," Barrett said.

While the mayor said those with the highest level did have a visit from nurses, there is still another concern.

"We are now examining whether we did the correct environmental remedial work for their homes," Barrett said.

Meanwhile, Barrett said the blunder is a reminder to the city, primary physicians and parents of the protocol.

"We want test before a child turns 3. 3 before 3 is something the city has been advocating for years," Barrett said.

Here are the locations of the 3 clinics available for the lead testing:

  • Keenan Health Center: 3200 N. 36th St.
  • Northwest Health Center: 7630 W. Mill Rd.
  • Southside Health Center: 1639 S. 23rd St.

The City of Milwaukee has also set up a phone number, 414-286-8800, available for those with questions about lead.