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Health center earns grant

January 10, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

Kim Murdaugh's surprise to learn that the Walnut Street Community Health Center was awarded a $340,000 grant quickly turned to gratitude Tuesday, with her explanation that patients will now have greater coordination of physical and mental health services.

"This service would really be targeting people who are uninsured," said Murdaugh, the center's executive director.

Health center officials applied for a Maryland Community Health Resources Commission grant in October 2006 and knew they were being favored. However, Murdaugh didn't learn that the money had been awarded until a Herald-Mail reporter read her a press release from the commission.

She estimated the funding will allow 322 patients to receive 1,400 mental health appointments.

The grant will allow the center, for the first time, to coordinate their mental and physical health needs into a family practice, Murdaugh said.

Once part of Washington County Hospital, the Walnut Street Health Center became a private, nonprofit entity more than three years ago, Murdaugh said. The center, which also has a dental program, served 4,956 patients in 2006, she said.

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Many of those patients are underinsured or uninsured people, who take advantage of sliding fee scales and payment plans, Murdaugh said.

The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission is an independent commission established by the Maryland Legislature in 2005, according to its Web site. It announced $4.6 million in grants across the state Tuesday.

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