On a quiet, tree-lined Glen Burnie street stands a little health center that time forgot.
With its institutional yellow walls, plasticchairs, creaking radiators and old-fashioned rotary phones, the GlenBurnie Health Center is vintage 1950s.
Left almost untouched since the day it opened in 1952, the clinicstill has the same narrow offices, the same three changing rooms, even the same examining table and scales. But the community organization that built the health center three decades ago hopes to soon bring it up-to-date.
The Glen Burnie Health Center Association, a lay group formed in the late 1940s to provide community health services, wants to raise $100,000 to renovate the building at Fifth Avenue and A Street.
"It's in good shape structurally, but we definitely need to do a general overhaul," said William Padfield, the 86-year-old founder and president of the association.
Plans include installing a new roof, replacing the leaking air conditioning system and rehabbing the waiting area and examining rooms, Padfield said. The 47-member group plans to raise the money with flea markets, bake sales and other events.
Anne Arundel County was the first in Maryland to develop adecentralized, community-based health system. To offer low-income residents medical services close to home, the county asked neighborhoods to build and maintain their own health centers, which are staffed with nurses from the Health Department.
Working as a partner with the neighborhood groups, the Health Department gradually expanded its community services to include everything from family planning to pediatric care to alcoholic rehabilitation.
The county now boasts 14 community health centers, including 10 owned and maintained by lay groups. Health centers at public housing projects in Annapolis and Pasadena are under the care of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Glen Burnie's health center started in a Masonic Templebefore the community group raised enough money to build a facility next to the Richard Henry Lee Elementary School. When its doors swung open in 1952, the deceptively small building was lauded as a "model health center," Padfield recalled.
But the eight-room center no longer looks modern. When the community group lost members and languished during the 1980s, some upkeep was postponed. Renovations now are sorely needed, staff members at the center said yesterday.
"I'd likeit to become more attractive," said nurse manager Maureen O'Brien, raising her voice above the piercing shriek of a little boy getting his blood taken to check for iron deficiency.
Former nurse manager Maria Annette Gumas, who now oversees reproductive health programs, said she believes a face lift would make the health center "look more clean and inviting."
"When you come in, you say, 'This is so 1950s,' " she said. "It hasn't changed with the times."
More than 580 children and another 340 women are receiving care at the center, O'Brien said. Between 20 and 40 parents and pregnant women also stop by each day to pick up nutritional supplements provided through the federalWomen, Infants and Children program.
Though the narrow, dark rooms and out-of-date furniture bother the staff, few patients have complained about the facility, O'Brien said. Most are too preoccupied withmedical problems or getting proper nutrition and health care for their children, she said.
Gumas agreed that most patients are focusedon trying to prevent medical problems and help their children, but said that an upgraded facility "would really help with the image of who we are."