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Howard County healthcare in the spotlight at Tuesday’s town hall

Residents will have the chance to hear from County Executive Allan Kittleman about all things healthcare on Tuesday at his third quarterly town hall of this year.

Kittleman will will be joined by Howard County General Hospital President Steve Snelgrove. The two will discuss multiple healthcare-related issues in the county, including construction and expansion of the county's hospital in Columbia, wellness and disease prevention, health care for the aging and the opioid epidemic.

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Hospital officials proposed plans in November 2016 for a $40 million expansion to its facility. The 36,000-square-foot addition would help provide adequate space for emergency care, general medical and surgical care and behavioral health services. Snelgrove will discuss the need for the project to serve the county's growing and aging population, said Susan Case, senior director of marketing and communications for the hospital.

The opioid epidemic has become a topic of concern throughout the county; 10 people died from heroin related causes in the first quarter of 2017, double the number from the same time in 2016. This is the second county-hosted event in recent weeks to include discussion of the crisis. In August the county's Office of Emergency Management hosted a workshop to brainstorm solutions for combating the epidemic.

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Case said Snelgrove will also likely talk about the importance of population health, which focuses on improving the health of families and communities by encouraging healthy lifestyles.

Kittleman said he and Snelgrove first talked about partnering in a town hall last year, and that he is glad to see the event come together.

Tuesday's town hall begins at 7 p.m. at the North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road. After their presentations, Snelgrove and Kittleman will also answer residents' questions.



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