A subsidiary of Carroll County General Hospital's parent corporationis negotiating a joint venture with the owners of Med-Care walk-in clinic at Crossroads Square shopping center, hospital officials announced last night.

The clinic has "been a significant part of the health-care community in the past, and there's a need to keep it going," said K. Wayne Lockard, president of the board of directors of Carroll County Med-Services Inc., who made the announcement.

Lockard said that as in any joint venture, Med-Services would share in any profits and liabilities from Med-Care.

The 11 area physicians who own Med-Care approached the hospital several months ago to negotiate a partnership, said Linda Harder, vice president for marketing and planning at CCGH.

Med-Care president Dr. Chitrachedu Naganna, a Westminster cardiologist, said a joint venture would benefit the current partners, the hospital and residents.

He said the physician owners all have their own practices and were feeling the strain of running the center, rotating on-call duty and maintaining their offices.

The physicians have been seeking a hospital with which to form a joint venture, which Naganna said is usually more successful than an unaffiliated clinic. He said the clinic was not having financialproblems.

Naganna said other hospitals had expressed interest, but declined to name them. Linking the clinic with CCGH, he said, ensures that local residents who go there won't be pressured to travel to an out-of-town hospital if they ever need to be admitted.

Also, hesaid, an out-of-town hospital's involvement in the clinic could siphon away potential patients from CCGH.

"The hospital is concerned about doing two things," Harder said. "Continuing to make sure services needed by the community are still available, and doing things in support of its medical staff as long as they make sense."

Med-Services is a for-profit subsidiary of the hospital's parent corporation, Carroll County Health Services Corp. Med-Services is separate financially from the hospital, Harder said.

Med-Services owns and operatesthe adjacent Billingslea Building and businesses providing medical equipment for home care. Med-Services also is involved in joint ventures with physicians and others for a magnetic resonance imaging service, out-patient dialysis, pain management and sports medicine.

Harder said that if the venture becomes final, Med-Services would take over management of Med-Care and contribute some money to the partnership, although she said she could not say how much.

She said Med-Careeventually would look into contracting with health-maintenance organizations.

Med-Care was started about five years ago by Naganna andthe other physicians as a seven-day clinic with extended evening hours.

"It is for people who are working-class and who can't get to regular office hours, or those who don't have a regular doctor," Naganna said, or for people who otherwise might unnecessarily have gone toan emergency room.

Since December, however, two other walk-in clinics have been opened by doctors already established in the county.

Drs. M. Susan Bollinger and Philip J. Ruzbarsky opened Gateway Medical Center on Airport Drive, and the physicians of Carroll Primary Care have opened PromptCare next to their offices in the Hunter Professional Center.

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