Nov. 13, 2013 — In response to community criticisms, health department representatives strongly disagree that closing the county's Olive Hill branch will leave citizens on the west end without access to healthcare.
“We are a preventative health organization, not a primary care facility. We deal with things like vaccines, WIC and distribution of contraceptives,” said Trena Greene, who is the department's Director of Nursing.
“With the exception of WIC supplies, which we still offer at our other locations, all of these services will continue to be available to individuals at the primary care facilities that operate in that part of the county,” she added.
Elected officials and citizens in the western portion of Carter County have been sharply critical of a decision made by the County Board of Health to close the Olive Hill location last Monday.
“I’m against this and am going to do everything in my power to keep those doors open,” said Carter Judge-Executive Charles Wallace.
Wallace is a member of both the County Board of Health and the Little Sandy District Board of Health.
He says he had no advance knowledge of the board’s intention to close the facility and was not informed about the decision until Tuesday, when a health department employee relayed the news to him.
“The west end has been let down long enough. These people will not have access to health care if this facility closes,” he added.
Wallace's comments have upset several members of the health department who claim he has been absent from board meetings for several years, making him essentially a non-factor in the decision-making process.
According to Interim Director Paula Thornberry, Wallace only attended one Little Sandy District meeting in 2012 and one meeting this year.
Olive Hill Mayor Kenny Fankell also weighed in on the board’s decision, expressing his frustration.