- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Charles County health officials were disappointed earlier this year when they learned that the county was skipped over in the awarding of funds that would have created a state Health Enterprise Zone in the western part of the county.
Areas that received the HEZ designation — there were five communities this time around — will be on the receiving end of millions of dollars that will play a role in bringing primary medical care to underserved residents all over the state. Needless to say, the county would have received a real boost if it had been chosen as an HEZ. It wasn’t to be this year, though Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown told the county’s elected officials not to give up shortly after those first round of announcements were made. He said the county’s time would come, and we haven’t forgotten that promise and plan to hold him to it.
But early last month came some good news from the state’s Community Health Resources Commission. The Charles County Department of Health was awarded a $125,000 grant to open a patient care facility in Nanjemoy. It will be housed in the clinic that was once used by the Greater Baden Medical Services organization, which moved last year to La Plata.
Charles County Health Officer Dr. Dianna E. Abney and other local officials were happy to report the good news. When Dr. Abney took over the helm of the local health department, she noted that bringing medical care to the western part of the county was one of her goals. She had hoped that an HEZ designation would allow her to combat diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases in that area, where health care was not available.
But she seemed equally optimistic with the announcement of this latest grant that the funds would serve as a major milestone in improving health care for many people in that area.
“How excited we are to open a clinic in a part [of the county] that has had some disparities. I look at this as a way to start to work toward some of our other goals,” she said when the grant was announced.
The news of a medical center for that area comes on the heels of another county program, Vision 2020, that we have reported on in the past. With that program, the county has a social worker working with impoverished families — many in the Nanjemoy area — to provide them with help with their housing, employment, transportation, education and health services needs: whatever is needed to improve their quality of life. The goal is to find out what these families need and what will help them pull themselves out of poverty.
These residents need a hand, and these programs are offering help and hope. The latest state grant offers the opportunity to bring medical services to an area where many resources are woefully inadequate. It was pointed out that the Nanjemoy area has no gas station and no grocery store, let alone a doctor’s office.
The residents there deserve access to these types of amenities, and offering access to primary health care is a great place to start.