2013-03-14 / Front Page

State Health Center Could Close Here

Office would be consolidated with Bedford County
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz


Community health nurse Teresa Leese, right, and clerk Susie Schmidt work Tuesday morning at the state health center in McConnellsburg, which may close if Gov. Tom Corbett’s consolidation plan is approved. Community health nurse Teresa Leese, right, and clerk Susie Schmidt work Tuesday morning at the state health center in McConnellsburg, which may close if Gov. Tom Corbett’s consolidation plan is approved. NEWS EDITOR

The doors of the state health center in McConnellsburg could be closing in the near future if a consolidation or “modernization” plan goes through as proposed in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget outline.

The local office located in the Penn’s Village Shopping Center is one of 26 health centers across the commonwealth that is slated to close up shop through this proposal that would save the state around $3.4 million. A total of 60 facilities are currently operational in the state.

Aimee Tysarczyk, state Department of Health press secretary, told the “News” Monday that a date has not been finalized for the closure of the McConnellsburg location as it is a “gradual step-bystep process.” She noted the Department of Health will be “phasing in consolidations” that would likely result in area residents receiving services from neighboring Bedford County.

The goal of the modernization plan, Tysarczyk said, is to increase access to services. Even though state health centers do not provide primary care services, they do offer core programs ranging from STD/HIV services, disease investigations, immunizations and TB screening and case management.

She stated the Department of Health believes it can increase efficiency by mobilizing staff into the communities in comparison to the current method of having clients come to an office or find transportation to the office.

Tysarczyk said the modernization proposal was driven by a data analysis that determined 77 percent of a health center’s expenditures are linked to leases and not services; many health centers see as little as one walk-in client per week; all public health clinics are scheduled reducing the need for a bricks and mortar facility; and many health centers have unused or unnecessary space currently being leased.

Quoting specific figures pertaining to the McConnellsburg office, the press secretary said it has approximately two walk-ins per week and sees approximately 162 clients off-site. In comparison, larger counties such as Delaware and Washington see between 12 to 15 walk-ins per week.

She further said the new model will allow the Department of Health to take advantage of various local events such as “well-attended senior fairs, legislative-sponsored health expos and community health events.”

“We will ensure that these events are regularly scheduled and in places where people can easily find us. Our goal is to ensure that we are in the communities providing services where people live and work and to those who need them most ... .” Tysarczyk stated. “No one will have to leave the county to receive services unless the client chooses to do so because the location is more ideal. The goal of the plan is to increase access to services not decrease them, even though there will not be a bricks and mortar facility in the county. We will be at regularly scheduled events in the community and will offer them in greater frequency.”

Affected in the 26 office closures are 14 Department of Health employees who will see their positions eliminated from the state health center system. These positions are all clerical and administrative, said Tysarczyk, who added community health nurse positions will not be eliminated. The McConnellsburg health center currently employees a community health nurse as well as a clerk typist 2.

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