Health Department beginning move to new site Stoner Ave. building caused medical woes

July 03, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Health Department will begin moving today from the Stoner Avenue building that has caused medical problems for department employees for 17 years.

After the department's departure, Carroll County General Hospital, which purchased the building to house outpatient services, will begin renovating it to replace the ventilation and electrical systems.

The Health Department will be closed today through Sunday and will reopen Monday at its new site at 290 S. Center St., said Larry L. Leitch, deputy health officer.

The $2.6 million, 36,000-square-foot, one-story building will house the services that had been provided at the Stoner Avenue site, including mental health and substance abuse counseling, maternity clinics, health education programs and environmental health services.

The department originally was scheduled to move to a portable building at the Center Street site last July, but that plan was judged too costly.

In 1994, the Board of County Commissioners approved a proposal to move a portable building donated by Martin Marietta Corp. in Middle River and renovate it for Health Department office space.

But the projected cost, $3.38 million, was $1 million more than county officials had originally estimated.

"The cost kept going up and up and up until we got to the point where we could build a new building for the same price as the portables," Leitch said.

The Health Department moved to the Stoner Avenue site in 1979, and department employees soon began complaining of a variety of medical problems, including rashes, watery eyes, headaches and a lack of concentration, he said.

"It's the traditional sick building syndrome, bad indoor air quality," Leitch said.

Over the years, the county conducted several studies seeking the cause of the problem, but employees have continued to complain of medical problems.

"There's been a lot of effort, a lot of money and a lot of time expended on trying to fix the problem but in the long term, it has shown no real improvement," Leitch said.

Carroll County General Hospital bought the Health Department building from the county in 1994 for $4.5 million.

The hospital paid $2 million and turned over to the county 100 acres near Routes 30 and 428 in Hampstead.

The land is part of a 400-acre tract bequeathed to the hospital 32 years ago.

The hospital plans to spend $5.5 million to renovate and equip the building as an outpatient surgery center and women's health center, which will offer breast imaging and obstetric and gynecological services, said Carroll County General Hospital spokeswoman Gill Chamblin.

The building will also house a 15-bed subacute unit for patients who don't require the acute care of a hospital but still need supervised care.

Plans call for the outpatient center to open in 12 to 18 months, Chamblin said.

Hospital officials plan to install new windows and electrical and ventilation systems.

"We're taking it right down to the bricks and mortar," Chamblin said. "Virtually everything will be new."

Pub Date: 7/03/96

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