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Officials seek funding for health center

February 25, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Local health officials on Tuesday told Hagerstown City Council members why they need $300,000 in federal grants to relocate and expand the Potomac Street Community Health Center.

The city's proposed budget for almost $3.8 million in community development block grant money and other funding sources doesn't include any funding for the health center.

Mayor Steven T. Sager said city officials want to find a way to help with the project, but must discuss whether that aid would come in the form of grants.

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The health center has outgrown its 239 N. Potomac St. location and needs room for more staff and examination rooms.

The $2 million project would allow the health center to move into a larger, renovated building downtown, said Horace Murphy, president of the Washington County Hospital Association. No site has been selected.

The hospital would invest $1 million to $1.5 million in the first phase of the project, which would give the center 10,000 square feet, Murphy said. Eventually, the center could expand to 20,000 or 30,000 square feet.

A larger health center with better hours and greater accessibility would help meet basic health needs of local low-income residents and is expected to cut down on their emergency room visits, health officials said.

Council members will discuss the funding request for the health center as well as some other grant requests in March, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

A public hearing on the community development budget will be held before council members vote on whether to approve the budget in late May.

The $300,000 for the health center was the largest single funding request submitted by more than a dozen community agencies.

The second largest request was from Hagerstown Goodwill Industries Inc. for $111,555 to complete renovations at its 200 N. Prospect St. facility.

The proposed budget lists more than $2.5 million in block grant and other monies for city projects including a homeownership program.

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