AIDS clinic in Savage to close

The Baltimore Sun

A grant-funded AIDS clinic in Savage operated by Johns Hopkins Hospital is to close by the end of the month, but county health officials say they hope the service will move to the Chase Brexton clinic in Columbia.

John M. Gerwig III, Hopkins program manager, said Hopkins officials received a call last month from the county's health officer, Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, alerting them that the program would end. Hopkins has operated an AIDS clinic in Howard County for 15 years, but only recently in Savage, Gerwig said.

"Rumors were flying everywhere," he said.

Gerwig mailed a letter to the 85 patients in the program informing them of the Savage clinic's closing. Any patients who wish to keep their doctors may continue receiving treatment at Hopkins Moore Clinic at the East Baltimore hospital campus.

Beilenson said the change is being driven by state budget cuts to local health offices.

"We're taking budget cuts midyear," he said.

Dawn O'Neill, Beilenson's deputy director, said the county Health Department can save up to $175,000 if Chase Brexton gets the Ryan White federal grant for the program and takes over administrative chores.

The county can then eliminate a program manager's job, a high-level data entry position and reassign several other department workers who spend part of their time on the twice-a-month program.

"It is very, very, very labor intensive," she said.

Patients would have access to the new clinic five days a week instead of twice a month at Savage. Transportation money for those without vehicles will also be available, Beilenson said.

The grant awards are expected to be announced by the end of the month, according to Ralph Brisueno, the Baltimore City Health Department official who administers the competitive bidding process. Chase Brexton, Hopkins and People's Community Health Centers are competing for the grant, he said.

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