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Work in D.C. delayed by scare



Published: Wed, October 24, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



An Austintown man tested negative for anthrax but is on antibiotics as a precaution.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- An area advocate for the aging thought his one-year fellowship in Washington, D.C., would help him pursue senior citizen issues on a national level.

Instead, William H. Adams is on antibiotics and his office in the nation's capital is being tested for biological hazards.

His office, located in the Hart Senate Office Building, is two doors down from that of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, who received a letter that tested positive for anthrax Oct. 15.

About 2,000 people in the building, including Adams, were tested for exposure to the sometimes deadly bacteria. More than 20 people from Daschle's office have tested positive for exposure to the disease.

About the test: Adams, 41, said his tests came up negative but he was placed on the antibiotic ciprofloxacin for 60 days as a precaution.

"It wasn't that bad," said Adams of the testing. "They stick a Q-tip-type-thing up your nose; both nostrils."

He likened the experience to waiting for a ride at Cedar Point: There were long lines and those already tested jokingly tried to scare others about their experience.

There are downsides to being on the drug.

Adams is supposed to steer clear of milk and alcohol, and he was told to wear sunscreen when venturing outside on sunny days.

The other downside to all of this, he said, is he hasn't been able to accomplish his goals. He hopes to work on issues to increase the personal-needs allowance for nursing home residents on Medicaid, increase nursing home staffing and require criminal background checks for nursing home employees who perform hands-on care for the elderly.

His background: Adams, a 1978 Struthers High School graduate, is a former long-term-care ombudsman at the District XI Area Agency on Aging. He also served as a law clerk for Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift and was a caseworker in the Youngstown office of U.S. Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum.

Adams began the 2001-02 Heinz U.S. Senate Fellowship on Sept. 4 in the office of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. He went to his first hearing with the Senate aging committee Sept. 10.

Terrorists attacked the next day.

"I'm looking forward to getting back to the issues; I don't know when that will happen again," he said.

Adams said he still recommends going to Washington, D.C., despite his rocky start and the potential danger he has faced.

wheatley@vindy.com




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