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Ailing Odenton Health Center needs shot of first aid


The Odenton Health Center, which helps thousands of West County residents every year, will be getting some first aid for its ailing 48-year-old building.

The Odenton Health Association, the nonprofit group that owns the building, routinely has patched the roof and made repairs, but two years ago it became evident that such work wasn't enough, said Vicki Wellford, president of the association.

Last winter, the situation got so bad that in addition to their regular duties, staff members spent time devising ways to divert leaks from their work areas and files.

Rainwater soaked through ceiling tiles, which sagged and fell to the floor.

The 30-member community group enlisted the support of Arundel Community Development Services Inc. and the county health department to find a way to renovate the building at 1370 Odenton Road.

Financial help came this year from a $200,000 federal Community Development Block Grant and $100,000 from the state.

An architect will be selected by September, and construction should begin in May, said Kathleen Koch, executive director of Arundel Community Development Services Inc., which will help oversee the renovation.

Officials do not know how long the renovation will take, but said the center probably will be closed.

The health department is planning an alternative for West County residents, said Mary Ann Woodzelle, program manager for the county's area health services.

The Odenton Health Center, one of the county's five health clinics, is open to everyone but primarily serves low- to moderate-income families and charges on a sliding scale.

Last year, Odenton's eight-member staff treated about 5,000 patients, said Ms. Woodzelle.

The clinic offers family planning, immunizations, home visits, refugee screening and testing for acquired immune deficiency syndrome and tuberculosis, county health department officials said.

The center is "definitely needed" and is "an important part of the community," Ms. Wellford said. "With all the development around here, [the center] is just keeping up with all what's going on in Odenton."

The building was constructed by Odenton businessman Ephraim Winer, president of National Plastics Products, who gave $50,000 toward construction. The 1.3-acre site was donated by the O'Malley family.

In 1973, the Odenton Health Association provided $25,000 to expand the building and finish the basement.

The association leases the building to the county health department for $1 a year. The county pays for utilities and provides the staff.

Some patients who had come for family planning counseling yesterday said that despite the building's appearance, they come to the center because of the staff.

"They're really friendly," said Odenton resident Sonette Johnson, who has been coming there for three years. "You can call them up any time."

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