Support remains as Pennsylvania closes train derailment health center |
(The Center Square) – As the Pennsylvania Department of Health closes its health center near the East Palestine train derailment, officials continue to collect health data and pledge to establish telehealth options.
The health resource center, opened Feb. 28 at the Darlington Township Building near the Ohio border, served more than 550 residents until officials halted operations March 16. Officials from the ministries of health, environmental protection and agriculture provided the center with doctors and local pastors.
Closing does not mean disconnecting, however.
“We’re not going to walk away,” said Jeff Backer, director of the Department of Health’s Planning and Operations Division. He noted that officials are setting up a virtual option for residents who still have health issues.
Many residents who come to the center are not primarily concerned with their physical health. Instead, the center served as a place to talk with state officials and ease anxiety about the environmental effects of the train derailment.
“When you think about it, their safety is taken away from them,” said Dr Arlene Seid. Residents mentioned headaches and eye and skin irritation, but anxiety was a common problem. “They come here to get information.”
It is also a way for officials to gather information. They distributed two chemical exposure assessment surveys, one for the general public and one for first responders, to understand the health effects of the train derailment in the area. Nearly 170 surveys were completed, answering questions about health symptoms, possible contact with chemicals, sources of drinking water, and information about pets, crops, and livestock.
A Health Ministry official did not say when or in what form the results of the survey would be released.
“The Shapiro administration remains steadfast in its commitment to the health, safety and well-being of residents, and will continue to work to protect their health and safety for as long as it takes,” the press secretary said. of the Ministry of Health, Mark O’Neill. .
In announcing the center’s opening, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office called it a “whole-of-government response.” Concerned residents can find more information and resources on the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s Train Derailment Dashboard.