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Mobile clinic to reach underserved areas of Carroll County

Mobile clinic to reach underserved areas of Carroll County
Carroll County Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, speaks at a commissioners meeting July 11, 2019. (Mary Grace Keller)

A traveling clinic on wheels is in the works to provide health services to areas of Carroll County that lack providers.

The Carroll County Health Department announced Thursday the receipt of grant funding that will allow it to purchase a van and hire a driver to provide behavioral health services and possibly more. Data from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office shows the Manchester-Hampstead area, Taneytown, Sykesville, and Mount Airy are “hot spots” for overdoses, local behavioral health authority Sue Doyle told the county commissioners.

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While Westminster certainly has overdoses too, providers are more easily accessible there, Doyle said, so the van will focus on places that lack resources. The initiative will be called the Carroll County Care Collaborative.

Doyle later said the $120,000 grant to buy the vehicle, laptops, and other equipment came in June from the Opioid Operational Command Center, which serves to combat Maryland’s opioid crisis. Just this week, they received an additional grant for approximately $85,000 from the Maryland Department of Health to hire a driver, provide training, cover medication, and reach out to physicians, Doyle said.

“We’re going to bring the services to them,” Doyle said after the meeting. “There is a population of people I feel are being missed.”

Doyle said transportation can be a barrier to people getting the services they need. Not everyone has a way to get to Westminster to see their provider, she said.

The vehicle, which has yet to be acquired, will provide behavioral health services in person and online. laptops will allow patients to consult with providers online, also known as telemedicine, Doyle said. Through this, they’ll be able to talk to physicians and therapists.

The driver, who has yet to be hired, will offer in-person support. They will be a peer recovery support specialist, someone who has experience with recovery themselves, according to Doyle.

“They are trained to help a person in recovery by mentoring,” Doyle said in an interview.

That person will also be able to link the patient to other resources and help them advocate for themselves, she said. Buprenorphine, more commonly known as Suboxone, will be available to treat addiction, according to Doyle.

At Thursday’s meeting, County Health Officer Ed Singer emphasized that the van will be for overall wellness. Since the project is still in the early stages, the Health Department is considering what services it can provide, in addition to behavioral health. They may provide screening for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or offer blood pressure screenings, Doyle suggested. It depends on which providers they partner with to get the wheels turning.

“This is awesome,” Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said at the meeting. “It is a wonderful idea.”

Some services are federally funded, while others will be available to those eligible for or on Medicaid, Doyle later said.

The van has yet to be put out to bid, but the plan is for it to have two treatment rooms, a bathroom, nurse area, and refrigerator for medication, according to Doyle. The grant includes lettering for the outside of the van, Doyle said.

She hopes the van will hit the road within the next four months. Where exactly and how often the van makes stops has yet to be determined.

In other business Thursday, the commissioners discussed the Carroll County Transit Development Program (TDP), which is undergoing a progress update. The TDP serves as a guide that includes goals and possible changes to the transportation system over a five-year period, said transportation grants coordinator Stacey Nash. It is required by the Maryland Transportation Administration, said Lib Rood of KFH Group, the company responsible for compiling the TDP for the county. As part of the progress update, users of Carroll transit, the general public, employers, and stakeholders were surveyed. In general, responses indicated a desire for more frequent service and extended hours, Rood said.

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Additionally, the commissioners accepted $2,475,000 from the Maryland Water Quality Financing Administration Bay Restoration Fund Wastewater Program to fund stormwater management retrofit projects. This serves to address the requirements of the county’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, according to an agenda-related document.

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