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Community Free Clinic wins contract to fight teen pregnancy

January 30, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday awarded a contract to the Community Free Clinic for services to reduce teen pregnancy.

The $13,285.20 contract will run from Feb. 1 to June 30 and will pay for birth control, pregnancy testing, screening, treatment and other services.

The county has budgeted $80,000 for teen pregnancy clinical services under recommendations from the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition.

That money could be used to extend the clinic's contract past June with approval from the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families, which manages the funds.

The clinic, which serves Washington County residents without health insurance, has offered teen pregnancy services for two years, said Stephanie Stone, director of the community partnership.

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Last year, the clinic's teen pregnancy programs served 250 teens, according to Melissa Nearchos, the community partnership's project coordinator.

"This money will allow the clinic to broaden their outreach, expand their advertising, purchase supplies and other things," Nearchos said.

In the past, funding for the clinic's teen pregnancy services had come through the Washington County Health Department, which is one of the county's largest teen pregnancy service providers.

Last year, the county commissioners voted to fund clinical pregnancy services through the community partnership, which can put contracts out to bid and provide greater accountability, Commissioner James F. Kercheval said.

Nearchos said the clinic was the only eligible organization to bid on the contract. The health department did not apply.

Washington County Health Department Spokesman Rod MacRae could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

According to data from 2004, the most recent year available, Washington County had the fourth-highest teen birth rate in the state, behind Baltimore City, and Caroline and Dorchester counties on the Eastern Shore.

The county had a rate of 48.6 births per 1,000 female teens, compared with 41.2 per 1,000 nationally and 32.2 per 1,000 in Maryland.

In a presentation to the county commissioners earlier this month, Coalition Director Carrol Lourie said the county has the highest birth rate in Maryland among white teens.

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