EAST PALESTINE – A health assessment clinic will open at noon on Tuesday for residents of the East Palestine area who have health problems related to the February 3 train disruption.
Community members can begin making appointments today at 8 a.m. by calling 234-564-7755 or 234-564-7888.
Organized by the Ohio Department of Health in partnership with the Columbiana County Health Department, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the clinic will be held at the First Church of Christ in East Palestine, 20 W. Martin St. In addition to the two assessment rooms inside the church, a mobile unit operated by the Columbiana County Community Action Agency will be stationed outside the church to accommodate additional appointments.
Hours this week through Saturday in the church’s assessment rooms are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. . The evaluation clinic is closed on Sunday.
The mobile room will be open from noon to 6pm Tuesday and 8am to 8pm Thursday and Friday.
Next week, February 27th through March 4th, the hours will be Monday through Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the church assessment rooms. The mobile room will be open from 8am to 8pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
The clinic is staffed by registered nurses, nurse practitioners and a toxicologist and can be accessed on site or by phone. Mental health professionals are also available.
Columbiana County Health Department spokeswoman Laura Fauss said county health district staff will answer the phones and set up appointments and will also be at the clinic. Similar to what the district did during the Covid-19 outbreak, the health department is using ProLink to provide nurses.
“We are the boots on the ground.” She said.
A press release from the Ohio Department of Health said this is the latest step taken by Governor Mike DeWine and several state agencies to help the village recover from the damage and chemical spill.
“I was in East Palestine last week and listened to many local residents expressing their fears and anxieties.” said ODH Director Bruce Vanderhoff, MD, MBA. “I heard you, the state heard you, and now the Ohio Department of Health and many of our partner agencies are offering this clinic, where people can come and discuss these important issues with medical providers.
“We encourage anyone with a medical issue or question to use this facility.” he said.
The clinic is an opportunity for local residents to discuss concerns and receive a health assessment. If necessary, a referral will be made.
When asked if the health department had received reports of confirmed medical cases due to the rail derailment, Faus said they had not received any yet but, like everyone else, they had heard that people were experiencing rashes, headaches and coughs.
During a press conference broadcast live from Columbus on Friday, DeWine announced that a medical evaluation clinic will be established this week in East Palestine through the Ohio Department of Health with support from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
They emphasized at the time that the decision to establish a clinic was not the result of air sampling or water sampling, but they acknowledged that the water in the village water system was safe to drink and the air was clean. The damage caused to the villagers in the last two weeks since the train derailment.
“We know the science says East Palestine is safe, but we know residents are very worried. They are asking themselves, ‘Is my headache just a headache? Or is it because of the chemical spill? Are there other medical symptoms caused by the spill? Those are very valid questions and residents have answers. They deserve it. Devin said.
Medical professionals coming to East Palestine will answer questions, assess symptoms and provide medical expertise, he said, adding that local people have access to the world’s best experts on chemical exposure.
During that press conference, Vanderhoff said they will be working with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to provide local medical providers with information on how to address their patients’ concerns.
Regarding the testing of water wells in the eastern Palestinian area, Faus said that there are no final results yet, but they are expecting the results early this week. The health department, in collaboration with registered environmental health specialists (hygienists) from other provinces, increased its staff and allowed four two-member teams to conduct the investigation. She explained that these teams are different from the teams used by the Norfolk South contractor. Both are at the properties at the same time, but each team is getting its own separate sample and then sending it to two different labs.
She said more than 50 wells have been tested so far and more are on the way. She explained that they are trying to scientifically determine where they will go, such as groundwater flow and surface water flow.
“We’re doing the best we can.” Faus said.
People can call the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 330-849-3919 to request air monitoring in their homes or have their water tested by the county and Norfolk Southern.
Lori Chris, director of Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, spoke about mental health services available during a recent press conference, telling people to call 211 to find out about local providers of counseling services or call the Ohio Care Line at 1-800. -720-9616 for free 24/7 confidential advice.