By Frank Lewis
On Monday, Community Action Organization of Scioto County Executive Director Steve Sturgill told the Daily Times that CAO is closing its medical clinic at 411 Second St., in Portsmouth.
There were tears and sad countenances on the faces of employees of Community Action Organization of Scioto County Medical Clinic Tuesday morning. “I’m devastated,” one woman said. “I like my job.” The staff was reacting to the news that the clinic is closing. “My daughter is 29 and I came here when I was having her,” the woman said.
Another employee talked about how it has always been a family atmosphere. Now, those people who have counted on the CAO clinic for their health care, will have to find an alternate medical care facility.
“We’re trying to help people now,” one of the employees said. “We’re working with our patients to find care for them.”
Sturgill said the clinic will discontinue its long history of providing general medical and ob-gyn services to low income residents of Scioto County by Sept. 30 of this year. He said the clinic has begun notifying and referring patients to other medical services and doctors in the community to insure that patients have no break in their medical needs.
Dr. Darren Adams, an OB-Gyn physician, who said he had been told of the closing a couple of weeks ago, told the Times he is proud of what has been accomplished in the obstetrics treatment at the CAO Medical Clinic.
“We have an excellent track record in prenatal care and cutting down preterm delivery,” Adams said. “They’ve been helping with prenatal care for Stepping Stones and helping the moms get off of narcotics. That has been their strong suit.”
Stepping Stones is a residential treatment program for adult women with a primary focus on recovery from alcohol and other drug addictions.
Sturgill said the decision to close the medical clinic was based on several factors, including a decline in the facility’s patient visits over the last couple of years, which has resulted in a steady decrease in revenues.
“Due to these decreases our medical clinic budget has been very difficult to manage. We already know the budget beginning in January of 2015 has significant revenue problems which makes this decision necessary,” Sturgill said. “The announced closing today (Monday) only affects our medical clinic services. The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program will continue to operate and provide quality health services for women, infants and children out of the 411 Second St. center it has shared with the medical clinic for years.”
Young women and children sat in the waiting room reading to their children as medical staff took patients to the back for care. It looked like business as usual, but there was somewhat of a different atmosphere at the CAO Medical Clinic Tuesday.
“I’m sorry to see it go,” Adams said. “We’ve done great work and all of the OBs in town have participated in the care down there and that’s more of a service than anything because we don’t do it for money.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.