A slow economy always means an increase in the number of people using public health services because they can't afford private medical care, said Jo Riley-Kauer, chief of the Addictions Bureau of the Carroll County Health Department.
At the meeting yesterday of the Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Advisory Board, chairman Bert Benzasked the public and private health providers there what effect the declining economy and the war in the Persian Gulf were having on their agencies.
Even before the war, the recession brought more people, and therefore longer waiting lists, to the Addictions Bureau, Riley-Kauer said.
"More people come to the public health sector for treatment because they don't have health insurance," she said, because they lost their jobs or earn too little to afford insurance.
The waiting list for outpatient services at the bureau was at 125 in April; it then went down to 45 after the bureau received a federal grant. But the listis up to 65 now, Riley-Kauer said.
Inpatient services, such as atthe Regan Center for chronically addicted people, also have longer waiting lists. The nine-month program in Sykesville had a waiting listof 125 names in April, which went down to 60 when the program added 15 beds in the summer. But the list is now up to 125 again, Riley-Kauer said.
Without enough money and staff to cover the patients, theRegan has only 39 of 48 beds filled, and the 30-day program at the Carroll Addictions Rehabilitation Center has only 20 of 32 beds filled, she said.
The advisory board is looking for new members, especially those who are relatives of people who have used addictions and mental health services. The board also needs local professionals such as doctors and lawyers. Those interested may contact Benz, who lives in Manchester, or Howard Held, chief of the Mental Health Bureau of the county Health Department.