Medical Clinic, Busy Week Coming in East Palestine

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – Appointments were already being accepted Monday morning for area residents affected by the East Palestine train derailment.

The health assessment clinic is being set up at First Church of Christ, 20 W. Martin St., through the Ohio Department of Health along with the Columbiana County Health Department and with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will officially open at noon Tuesday.

Two assessment rooms will be inside the church, as well as at an additional mobile unit outside through the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County. At this point, only a large sign marks the spot of the clinic and gives residents information about the website that provides updated information.

ODH Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, who appeared at the town hall meeting Feb. 15, tried to answer questions asked by the nearly full house at the East Palestine High School gymnasium. But frustrations were running high, when no one, not even Vanderhoff, could be certain whether the conditions some residents are reportedly experiencing – headaches, sore throats, swollen eyes, runny noses and rashes – are related to the train derailment on Feb. 3.

“Last week, I was in East Palestine and listened as many area residents expressed their concerns and fears,” Vanderhoff said in a released statement. “I heard you, the state heard you, and now the Ohio Department of Health and many of our partner agencies are providing this clinic, where people can come and discuss these vital issues with medical providers. We encourage anyone who has medical concerns or questions to take advantage of this resource.”

The clinic will be staffed by registered nurses, mental health specialists and a toxicologist, who will either be on site or available by phone for consultations.

To make an appointment at the center, call 234 564 7755 or 234 564 7888.

On Monday, Ohio U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance released a letter asking for the Ohio and U.S. EPA to monitor East Palestine and the surrounding area for dioxins, which are compounds that can form following the combustion of vinyl chloride, according to their letter. Dioxins are highly toxic and can interfere with hormones, potentially causing cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and can damage the immune system.

Since the day following the Feb. 3 derailment, the Ohio EPA has been monitoring the water, while the U.S. EPA has been testing the air in the area. The EPA has reported hazards in both the water and air are below any dangerous levels, with the exception of Sulphur Run, a waterway through East Palestine. Soil samples also are being taken at the site as cleanup continues.

A street cleaning truck can now be seen in the areas of the cleanup and the streets leading away from it, which have become muddy from the trucks coming into and out of the cleanup area on the east end of the village.

Another busy week is planned in East Palestine. Besides the opening of the clinic Tuesday, former President Donald Trump will visit the area Wednesday, and environmental activist Erin Brockovich will have a meeting at East Palestine High School at 6 p.m. Friday.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-33rd, will host a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday to gather testimony about the derailment, which happened less than half a mile from the Pennsylvania border. The hearing will take place at the Dome Athletics and Event Center at the Community College of Beaver County in Monaca.

Pictured at top: First Church of Christ in East Palestine.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.