Can two clinics serve more as one? Site would be in Glen Burnie

June 08, 1993|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff Writer

The Anne Arundel County health department hopes to consolidate two North County clinics into a new, more central location in Glen Burnie, saying it will make maternity services more convenient and accessible.

Health officials said yesterday that negotiations are well under way to consolidate the Freetown and Friendship regional maternity clinics into one expanded center in downtown Glen Burnie.

The site of choice, they said, is the old Robinson's building off Ritchie Highway. It is on a public bus line, has adequate space to accommodate patients from both clinics and is near the county's Department of Social Services.

"There's three words in real estate -- location, location, location," said Frances B. Phillips, acting deputy health officer, stressing that the deal has not been cinched.

Dr. Katherine P. Farrell, acting health officer, said that if the Robinson's deal falls through, the department has a couple other sites to consider but might not proceed with the plan at all.

The department wants to merge the clinics because neither has been convenient for the hundreds of county residents using them. At the Freetown clinic on Whitaker Road, the closest bus route drops patients off 1 1/2 miles away on Mountain Road, a long walk for pregnant patients, said Dr. Harry A. Curland, acting director of maternity and child health.

The Friendship clinic on Camp Meade Road in Linthicum is not accessible from public transportation at all, he said.

Ms. Phillips said the decision to merge the two clinics was not prompted by a desire to save money. In fact, the move could cost the department more, since both clinics are now in rent-free spaces and the county would have to lease the new site. But both centers are strapped for space and cannot accommodate more patients or services in the current locations.

Health officials do not think moving the clinics will cause any hardship for clients. Of the 150 maternity patients now enrolled at the Freetown clinic, for example, only five live in the Freetown complex, said Dr. Curland. The rest must commute in from Pasadena, Glen Burnie, Arnold, Severna Park and other communities, often a difficult proposition for clients without cars.

If the clinics are merged into the Robinson's building, which has been vacant for about five years, the health department will lease about 11,000 square feet. Both the Freetown and Friendship clinics have about 2,200 square feet, department spokeswoman Evelyn Stein said.

In addition to having more space, ample free parking and access from public transportation, the Robinson's site has the advantage of being across the street from the state-run Social Services Department, Dr. Curland said. Many clinic clients also receive services such as Aid to Families with Dependant Children which are administered at the state facility.

The Robinson's building, which has fallen into disrepair, needs major renovations, Dr. Curland said, but the current owner of the building, Aspen Joint Ventures, is responsible for making the repairs. The benefit to the health department is that the building can be retrofitted "to meet the exact needs of the department," he said.

Dr. Curland hopes to add a second county dental clinic at the site, because the clinic at the main offices off Harry S. Truman Parkway near Parole is difficult for many patients to get to, he said.

Plans for the Freetown and Friendship centers have not been discussed, Dr. Farrell said, because the Robinson's deal has not been completed. She expects to have a firm commitment one way or the other within a few months.

If the deal materializes, the clinics would be relocated after January 1994, she said.

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