From correspondent Lynda-Marie Taurasi:
Chapel Hill Town Council member Penny Rich will ask her colleagues Wednesday night to formally oppose the county commissioners’ decision to close the county dental clinic in Car Mill Mall.
Last month, the commissioners voted 5-2 to consolidate dental services in Hillsborough, saving the county’s budget $65,000. Commissioners Alice Gordon and Mike Nelson voted against closing the Carrboro clinic.
Rich said the decision stunned her.
“Maybe I am naïve, but I didn’t think it would happen,” she said. “This is not the way we take care of people in our county.”
The county is proposing a voucher system, for those who qualify, to cover the $4 bus trip to Hillsborough. The trip requires taking a Chapel Hill Transit bus to catch the 420 bus to Hillsborough, and then walking several blocks west to the Hillsborough Clinic in the Whitted Building. The voucher system will cost the county $8,000 a year.
Orange County Commissioner Steve Yuhasz serves as a liaison to the Orange County Board of Health. He says the decision to consolidate services has been considered since 2008.
Yuhasz says the board was reluctant to close the Car Mill location but concluded the county could best serve citizens through a full-time dental clinic in a single location.
Since the Hillsborough location already existed and would be much more easily and economically converted into a full-time clinic, that was the recommendation, he said.
Town Council member Lauren Easthom, who is a dentist, plans to support Rich’s resolution. ‘We’re talking about health care. Their decision was reducing easy access to health care for some of the poorest citizens in our county. We all have tight budgets.”
Look for more on this story in tomorrow's Chapel Hill News.