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Research center is asked to move fro Health Department

May 05, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

A Johns Hopkins health research center that has been in the Washington County Health Department since 1962 has been asked to move out by the end of September.

William Christoffel, health officer for the Health Department, said Thursday he asked the George W. Comstock Center for Public Health Research and Prevention to leave because he needs the space to accommodate more staff for the growing department.

Christoffel said space is available for the research center in the Western Maryland Hospital Center on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Some Washington County Commissioners said Thursday they were concerned about Christoffel's attempt to move the research center.

"We're going to see what we can do ..." Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said. "Hopefully, we're not going to evict the Johns Hopkins research facility from a county building. Hopefully, it's just a glitch that we can work out."

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Wivell and Commissioner John C. Munson said it makes sense for the research center to be in the Health Department building.

The county owns the Health Department building but leases it to the Health Department. The County Commissioners also act as the Board of Health.

The Comstock Center is a research facility of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The school named the center after Comstock last August.

Comstock is the founding director of the center that researches the causes and prevention of human diseases - notably heart disease, cancer and stroke, according to a written statement.

Sandra C. Hoffman, assistant director of the Comstock Center, said the move would be a blow to the research center.

The center, which operates on grant funding, would have to pay three times more in rent at Western Maryland Hospital Center, and a move would disrupt research projects, she said.

The research center pays $500 a month in rent to the Health Department, but its rent would be more than $1,600 a month at the Western Maryland Hospital Center for about the same amount of space, Hoffman said.

That could pose problems for the grant-funded center, she said.

"My feeling is I'm not going to just roll over and roll out of here ..." Hoffman said.

Western Maryland Hospital Center representatives could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Christoffel said he didn't think a move to the Western Maryland Hospital Center would cause problems for the research center. The research center already uses a part of the hospital center to store its research, he said.

Hoffman said the research center stores blood samples in freezers at the hospital center.

"I don't see where it would have a negative impact," Christoffel said. "I think it's a benefit for both parties."

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