Sheletta Jackson was six months pregnant with her second child when she first called the Prince William Health District clinic for an appointment. She didn't get an appointment to see a doctor for seven weeks.

In the meantime, Jackson, 18, developed severe anemia and had to quit her job as a K mart cashier when she began having dizzy spells. Now she is taking iron pills four times a day, and her doctor has warned her that she may have to have a blood transfusion when she gives birth in late February.

"I wasn't supposed to go in until February 6 . . . . Since I'm due to deliver so soon, I guess they felt sorry for me," said Jackson, who had her first appointment last Wednesday.

Jackson's case is by no means unusual for the health department, which serves Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park. The waiting list for the Manassas maternity clinic now runs nearly seven weeks, up from three or four last year, said Nursing Director Anne Terrell.

Virginia last year increased the clinic's clientele by nearly 20 percent by raising the income ceiling for low-income clients, but sent the health district 10 percent less money than was needed to pay the staff, said Health Director Jared Florance.

Then, this winter, Virginia cut $50,000 out of the district's $4 million budget, which also cost the health district an additional $50,000 in local matching money, Florance said.

"We desperately needed those moneys," Florance said.

Now, with demand for services climbing, eight of the health district's 100 positions are vacant because Florance can't afford to fill them. He said his family practice staff, which cares for children and pregnant women, has barely increased in four years, while the area's population has grown more than 25 percent.

Health officials say that with more state cuts expected, they are juggling staff in an effort to meet the most desperate needs. A Dumfries clinic, in the county's southeastern corner, will close Feb. 1, and the staff will be shifted to the Manassas and Woodbridge facilities.

Officials in the Manassas office have also converted one of their four weekly family planning clinics into a maternity clinic in hopes of cutting down the wait for women such as Jackson, Terrell said.

Jackson was unable to get the Women, Infants and Children program diet supplements -- milk and other dairy products -- until her clinic appointment. She now worries that the baby, which is due Feb. 28, will be premature.

The wait came as a shock to Jackson, who had used the neighboring Fauquier County Health District when pregnant with her first child in 1989. "In Fauquier, it didn't even take a month," she said.

"If anyone is pregnant, I advise them to call {the health clinic} a few months ahead of time, because it takes forever," Jackson said.