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Lawmakers back grant for hospital

January 12, 2001

Lawmakers back grant for hospital



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Area lawmakers are seeking a $470,000 state grant to help Washington County Hospital finish renovations at its Walnut Street Community Health Center.

The money will be used to turn the building's third floor into a mental health treatment center, Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said Thursday.

Donoghue announced the grant at a luncheon for Washington County lawmakers hosted by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

The center has a clinic that accepts most health insurance plans, but it also offers a sliding fee scale for patients without insurance. In the past six years, patient volume has increased from 3,200 to 8,000.

The total project cost is close to $2.5 million, said Nancy Rothrock, executive assistant to the CEO and president of Washington County Health Systems Inc.

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The hospital raised $600,000 in donations. Other funding came in the form of grants and loans from the city, county and state, she said.

In 1999, the hospital got a $870,000 state grant to help purchase the building.

The latest grant will come through the same funding source, the state bond bill program, under which the state borrows money on behalf of nonprofits for building projects.

The hospital bond bill has been endorsed by the Maryland Hospital Association and will not compete with bond bill requests from the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross or Discovery Station.

The Red Cross is seeking $600,000 toward a new $2 million building off Eastern Boulevard. Discovery Station at Hagerstown Inc. wants $375,000 toward a $1.2 million interactive science center downtown.

The Walnut Street clinic also houses the Western Maryland Prescription program, which helps people apply for free drugs offered by pharmaceutical companies.

The program, which brings in an average of $55,000 a month in free drugs, was created through a $165,000 grant from the Maryland Healthcare Foundation, said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

The foundation is giving the program another $80,000 next year to keep it alive, Shank said.

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