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Health official says clinic could reopen if demand exists

November 08, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

KEEDYSVILLE - Reopening the Washington County Health Department clinic in Keedysville is possible but would take some work, county health officer Robert Parker told mayors from Keedysville, Sharpsburg and Boonsboro during a public meeting Monday.

The monthly clinic at the Little Antietam Community Center for residents of Southern Washington County closed in August.

The clinic, held the second Thursday of each month, treated about six patients a day, not enough to justify taking nurses from other programs to staff the clinic, Parker said. The number of patients would have to double to keep the clinic going, he said.

"It's something we would like to do if we can make it viable," said Parker.

It costs the county about $10,000 annually to run the clinic, he said.

The clinic provides childhood immunizations, blood sugar and pressure screening, pregnancy testing, HIV testing and counseling, cholesterol testing and fat analysis. Cost is based on a sliding scale depending on if a patient has insurance or Medicare.

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Family planning services, breast exams and sexually transmitted disease testing are offered at no charge.

The clinic on Mount Vernon Drive was open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parker later added hours in an attempt to increase participation but that did not work, he said.

Parker said he is willing to try evening hours again.

The town governments should distribute surveys to determine what types of services and hours of operation residents want, he said.

"We can tailor a program to meet their needs based on what we offer," said Parker.

About 25 people came to the center in Keedysville to talk about the clinic Monday night including Joseph E. Hannah, chairman of South Eastern Washington County Health and Communities Services, which owns and runs the community center, Del. Chris Shank and Sen. Donald F. Munson, who pledged their support.

Parker said the decision rests with him, a health department council and the Washington County Commissioners.

Parker said residents can show their willingness to use health department services by going to its "Tooth Care-A-Van," which provides dental care the second Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center. Parker also asked the public to attend Washington County budget hearings in support of the health department.

Keedysville Mayor Lee Brandenburg said the low turnout at the clinic may have been the result of inadequate publicity.

To increase public awareness, a plan to promote the clinic would have to be created, said Parker.

"If they can justify a need then we should support it," said Keedysville Councilman James Kerns.

Sharpsburg Mayor George Kesler said he was encouraged by the response from Parker. A Nov. 18 meeting between Parker and members of the South Eastern Washington County Health and Communities Services has been scheduled to iron out details for a survey and a publicity campaign.

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