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Alliance hospital closes clinic for lack of new cases



Published: Thu, May 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

Alliance Community Hospital has closed the clinic that was giving local residents an antibiotic to treat meningococcal disease.

The clinic was closed Wednesday night after hospital officials determined that no new cases of the disease have been confirmed in the area the past few days.

Since Monday the clinic has given out more than 1,000 free doses of the antibiotic Rifampin, which can kill the germ that causes meningococcal disease in people younger than 18.

People over 18 were prescribed the antibiotic Cipro, which also kills the germ. Both are given as precautionary measures, officials said, adding that both antibiotics kill the germ most of the time.

"We did not refuse anyone," said Linda Ewing, the deputy director of nursing for clinical services for the Mahoning County Health Board.

Health advice: Board of health officials said that anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to the disease recently should see their family doctor.

The clinic opened Monday after hundreds of local residents began seeking treatment out of concern that they had been exposed to the disease. Two West Branch high school students died over the holiday weekend, apparently as a result of the disease.

Jonathan Stauffer, 15, a freshman, died Saturday. Kelly Coblentz, 16, a sophomore, died Monday.

Still in isolation: Two people who showed symptoms of the disease remain in isolation at Salem Community Hospital. Board officials said "a few" others also are in isolation from Alliance Community Hospital. No specific numbers were available.

Ewing said board of health officials are still waiting to receive test results confirming that the two West Branch students died from the disease. They said they expect to receive those test results from the Ohio Department of Health in the next few days.

During a meeting this morning, the board of health praised local health officials for their response to recent concerns about the disease.

"The community response to this has cut across several jurisdictions. We could not have addressed the public concern, the public hysteria without this level of cooperation," said County Health Commissioner Matthew Stefanak.

hill@vindy.com




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