County opens new health clinic in Nan­je­moy

New fa­cil­ity tar­gets ru­ral, west­ern area

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

For Charles County Govern­ment, find­ing a way to spread health­care across the county has be­come a pri­or­ity.

In 2016, the county’s health depart­ment took steps to im­ple­ment a new mo­bile health­care unit for coun­ty­wide cov­er­age. To fol­low up this year, the county has opened a new health­care fa­cil­ity in Nan­je­moy — the West­ern County Com­mu­nity Health Cen­ter — to cre­ate eas­ier ac­cess for cit­i­zens in the west­ern

por­tion of the county.

The health depart­ment part­nered with Health Part­ners Inc., a lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion deal­ing with health­care, to pro­vide cit­i­zens a new fa­cil­ity with in-house phy- si­cians and ser­vice for at most 24 hours per week.

The county had a fa­cili- ty in the west­ern por­tion of the county pre­vi­ously that did not have enough staffing to ad­e­quately serve pa­tients, but Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) said this time around is dif­fer­ent.

“We’ve got the help of Health Part­ners now,” Mur­phy said. “The physi- cians are there to sup­port what we have here.”

Dr. Dianna Ab­ney, health of­fi­cer for Charles County’s Health De­part- ment, said she is “de­light- ed” to be able to open a new fa­cil­ity and spread the county’s cov­er­age. The goal, she said, is to bring “qual­ity care” to all parts of the com­mu­nity and the county would not be able to do it with­out the help of Health Part­ners.

Ab­ney said the ini­tial goal for the fa­cil­ity was to open it with a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship, but could not find a pri­vate part­ner un­til re­cently with Health Part­ners.

Both the fund­ing from county com­mis­sion­ers and the staffing from Health Part­ners com­ing to­gether with the health depart­ment made Ab­ney’s vi­sion for the fa­cili- ty fi­nally come to life, she said.

“When Health Part­ners and the com­mis­sion­ers step up and say, ‘Hey, we can help make this a three-day, and ul­ti­mately a five-day-a-week clinic,’ who am I to say no?” she said.

The bot­tom line, Ab­ney said, was that the peo­ple in west­ern Charles Coun- ty needed to be pro­vided with bet­ter health­care and they also needed to get that as­sis­tance “in their own com­mu­nity.”

The clinic will be open for at least three days per week, Ab­ney said, and could ul­ti­mately turn into a five-day clinic should fund­ing in­crease in fu­ture county bud­get ses­sions. The depart­ment will be look­ing to add, in that time, men­tal and den­tal health­care ser­vices to the fa­cil­ity as well.

The cen­ter will have one nurse prac­ti­tioner, one med­i­cal as­sis­tant and one ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant. The staff’s hours are not to ex­ceed 24 per week at the fa­cil­ity, but they will be con­tin­u­ously avail­able at the Health Part­ners Inc. clinic in Wal­dorf.

The county will fund $8,600 per month from Jan­uary to June 2017 to as­sist in pay­ing the clin- ic’s staff. De­pend­ing on the suc­cess of the model, fu­ture funds may be added ac­cord­ing to a res­o­lu­tion drafted by the county com­mis­sion­ers.

Chrisie Mulc­a­hey, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Health Part­ners Inc., said their goal is to pro­vide and ex­pand their ser­vices fur­ther into the com­mu­nity. This com­ing year will be the 25th an­niver­sary of the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion and there is no bet­ter way to get started, she said.

“I can’t think of a bet­ter way to kick this year off than to start here,” she said. “We’re very ex­cited and we look for­ward to serv­ing the pri­mary care needs of the com­mu­nity.”

In ad­di­tion to prima- ry care, she said, the com­pany will pro­vide a health ed­u­ca­tor. Pre­ven­ta­tive ser­vices along with colonoscopy screen­ings, mam­mo­grams, cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ings and im­mu­niza­tion clin­ics will be avail­able, she said.

County Com­mis­sioner De­bra Davis (D) said she has been an ad­vo­cate in merg­ing the dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties in the county “for a very long time.” Part of that merger, she said, in­cludes health­care.

“We’re not only di­verse in race and re­li­gion, but we’re di­verse in lo­ca­tion. What’s good for the ru­ral area might not nec­es­sar­ily be what’s good for Wal­dorf,” she said. “So we’ve had some chal­lenges in the ru­ral area. And we’ve had health­care chal­lenges. So to the ex­tent that this helps re­lieve some of the health­care ac­cept­abil­ity chal­lenges, I’m ex­cited.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL SYKES II

The Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers, Health Part­ners and Health Depart­ment part­ner to­gether to cut the rib­bon down on a new health clinic in Nan­je­moy tar­get­ing the West­ern por­tion of the county.

County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter Mur­phy (D) sign­ing a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Health Part­ners, Inc. Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Chrisie Mulc­a­hey to open up a new health clinic in Nan­je­moy.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHARLES COUNTY GOVERN­MENT

In part­ner­ship with Health Part­ners, Inc., Charles County Govern­ment opened the new West­ern County Com­mu­nity Health Cen­ter in Nan­je­moy on Jan. 31. The clinic now pro­vides pri­mary health­care for low-in­come res­i­dents in the west­ern por­tion of the county. The board of com­mis­sion­ers at­tended with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Charles County Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, Health Part­ners, Inc. and the Charles County Depart­ment of Health.

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