Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife, Fran, cut the ribbon Monday at the East Palestine Health Clinic along with East Liverpool City Hospital CEO Krista McFadden. (Photo by Stephanie Elvard)

EAST PALESTINE — As short- and long-term health concerns mount in East Palestine and surrounding communities following February’s Norfolk Southern train derailment, residents now have a permanent place to go to the village to seek medical care.

East Palestine Health Clinic, in partnership with East Liverpool City Hospital and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), officially opened its doors Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff was

“Basically, we saw a need and we filled a need,” Christa McFadden, CEO of East Liverpool City Hospital. “This community had a need.”

It was such a demand. While the clinic will function as a primary care clinic, it will provide much-requested screening and specialized care to the public in the wake of the rail disaster.

“We will provide full scope of primary care. We will treat newborns to the oldest members of our community. We will focus on health maintenance, preventive care as well as treatment of chronic illnesses. Dr Gretchen Nickell, chief medical officer at East Liverpool Hospital, said. ” We will also be able to offer screening tests as it relates to trail derailment. These tests will be done based on the recommendations of the Ohio Department of Health in collaboration with their experts.”

Nickell explained that the clinic will follow Ohio Department of Health guidelines regarding baseline testing and testing. Based on the results of these screenings and tests, the clinic will come up with a response on an individual basis. Nickell said the clinic may include on-staff specialists and referrals to other specialists. Mental health care will also be available at the clinic.

“We may need to bring some specialists into the clinic,” she said. “This can include ear, nose and throat and dermatology and will help facilitate when a person needs a referral to another specialist.”

Preliminary results of the Assessment of Chemical Exposure (ACE) survey conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency showed that 76 percent of residents of East Palestine who participated in the health assessment survey experienced headaches while 54 percent coughed, 52 percent experienced fatigue and 50 percent experienced problems. Skin rash or irritation. In addition, 62 percent reported concerns about potential chemical exposure after the derailment spilled highly volatile butyl acrylate and vinyl chloride chemicals, resulting in a controlled chemical release and what officials called an on-site burn to prevent the derailment. “A Potentially Big Bang” Residual vehicles of vinyl chloride were considered unstable.

The Centers for Disease Control confirmed that members of its on-the-ground assessment team had become ill with similar symptoms.

The permanent clinic has evolved and replaced the temporary health assessment clinic that opened on February 24 inside the First Church of Christ.

“The Ohio Department of Health and the Columbiana County Health Department worked together to set up a temporary clinic in the days following the derailment,” Devine said. “After a while it became clear that we needed a permanent clinic. We have it here now through East Liverpool City Hospital and the State Department of Health.”

DeWine first announced plans for a permanent clinic in the village on March 22 while testifying at a U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on the derailment. Less than three weeks after his announcement, the clinic opened. Vanderhoff tells of the speed with which the clinic was established “A remarkable achievement”.

“Setting up a primary care practice under normal circumstances can take many months,” Vanderhoff said. “What we see here is the cooperation and collaboration of many communities with the state. We were able to quickly build a new primary care facility in this community that would not only be able to meet the needs of an ongoing foundation from the very early stages to the very end of life, but we would also be able to continue. First Aid Attendance to assist with public concerns about the train derailment and the incident that occurred in February.”

The clinic will also provide first responders who battled the initial fire and assist with primary prevention efforts to monitor their health.

“Over 300 first responders responded to the derailment and really all of them need to establish a baseline,” Devine said. “This clinic will present opportunities for those who have not already done so. I think it’s a logical step for us to take.”

As with the resident ACE survey, first responders who participated in the assessment reported stuffy nose/sinus congestion (28 percent), runny nose (26 percent), increased congestion (22 percent), nose or throat irritation (21 percent) and hoarseness (15 percent). did percentage).

The initial health assessment clinic was critical in gathering that information and addressing the immediate health effects of the derailment. Permanent clinics will be important to address long-term effects.

“The temporary clinic was to survey the ACE and do the initial assessment and examination by a physician and then be able to do whatever was necessary.” Nickel said. “Instead of assessment and triage, we’re moving to assessment, treatment and ongoing care.”

The new clinic, located at 139 North Walnut St., received its first patient Monday at 2 p.m. The clinic will accept both appointments and walk-ins. It is free for those without insurance coverage and welcomes residents of East Palestine and any other community from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling (330) 383-6020.

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