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Donoghue seeks Wellmobile

February 08, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

A local lawmaker is spearheading the effort to get Western Maryland a health clinic on wheels.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, has filed legislation calling for a Wellmobile to serve Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties.

There are currently two Wellmobiles in Maryland, one serving Montgomery and Prince George's counties and the other serving the Eastern Shore.

Equipped with examination rooms and a laboratory, the 33-foot motor homes are owned and operated by the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

Since 1994, nurse practitioner students and faculty have been providing physicals, cancer screenings, health education programs, immunizations, lab tests and flu shots.

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"In particular, I think it would be good for our rural areas," Donoghue said.

The Community Free Clinic and the Washington County Hospital offer services for those who are uninsured or underinsured in Hagerstown. The Wellmobile would reach out to people living in remote parts of the county.

Washington County Health Officer Dr. Robert Parker said the Wellmobile would complement the Health Department's proposed school-based wellness centers.

"I think it would be a major benefit for the county to have the Wellmobile provide services in Washington County," said Parker said.

Those schools without a wellness center could be served by the Wellmobile.

One local lawmaker is disturbed that the school-based clinics, which are to be funded initially through grants, might later become a budget burden for the county government.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said the clinics may be duplicating the efforts of existing health clinics.

Donoghue disagreed.

"I think everybody's working toward the same goal. We just have different paths to get there. I don't think in this day and age we can ever do enough," Donoghue said.

A hearing on Donoghue's Wellmobile bill has not been scheduled by the House Environmental Matters Committee.

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