FACE LIFT FOR HEALTH CENTER Renovations provide space, modernizations GLEN BURNIE


Gone from the Glen Burnie Health Center is reception area plastic glass so gray the secretaries looked as if they were sitting in a cloud. Gone, too, are the institutional yellows and browns, stylish when the center first opened in 1952.

The sleek new secretarial area has a counter on which patients can rest their paperwork and elbows. And the colors are the more inviting blues, grays and mauve of the 1990s as the building at A Street and Fifth Avenue reopens after renovation.

Even the remains of urinals are gone from Maureen O'Brien's nurse manager office, replaced by shelves and space to turn around. And employees, who only a few months ago dialed vintage-1952 rotary telephones, this week joined the push-button era.

"It's the only time I've seen such a change. It's wonderful," said Mary Fisher, a secretary who has been at the center 21 years. "There's plenty of space."

The updated health center holds a grand reopening and open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today, and another open house from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 12. It officially will reopen for business at 8 a.m. Monday, though nurses held an immunization clinic last week and clients will be treated this week in the only examining room ready.

The health center has about 6,000 clients who pay on a sliding scale according to their incomes.

Just as the building's construction was a project of the Glen Burnie Health Center Association, a lay group formed in the 1940s, so were the renovations.

The 20-member organization's largest fund-raisers, art auctions held last spring and in March, brought in nearly $19,000 to pay for architectural plans and furniture.

Last year, the group won a federal Community Development Block Grant for the $158,000 in construction work. Nurses moved out in October, relocating temporarily to the nearby county Department of Utilities building, and Shercon Commercial Construction of Columbia moved in the next month.

The eight-room building was not enlarged, but reorganizing its interior and having filing cabinets and closets that fit the spaces have made it seem larger. The building has three examining rooms, a room for testing hearing and vision, two dressing rooms, a large office for seven nurses, a computer room and a conference-kitchen area.

For the first time, the building is accessible to patients in wheelchairs, with new wider doorways and a ramp outside. It has five interview rooms for private nurse-client conversations; C storage closet for clerical items; and a section of the waiting area is just for children.

There even is a new toy: a set of wooden animals carved by Samuel Bucich, a Glen Burnie resident, said Barbara Turner, president of the health center association. The federal Women, Infants and Children program is retaining its Glen Burnie office at the health center.

Although the Glen Burnie Health Center property is owned by the community group, the county staffs it. It is one of 10 health centers in Anne Arundel County, which was the first county in the state to decentralize its health clinics.

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