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Health assessment clinic opens in East Palestine

Gov. Mike DeWine said 38 people have scheduled appointments.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — For weeks, people living in East Palestine have been complaining of headaches and itchy eyes, having many questions about their overall health after the derailment that happened almost three weeks ago.

Tuesday, a new health assessment clinic tried to offer those answers.

Robert Mattes pulled up outside the First Church of Christ hoping to put his mind at ease.

“Ever since we’ve been back, my wife’s skin has been itchy and eyes have been burning,” Mattes said. “Test. And see if there’s any kind of things that’s going on with our system, our health system. Don’t want to take any chances.”

Mattes was surprised to learn, though, the clinic is not performing medical exams, such as blood tests, for people who might have concerns about levels of toxins.

“Blood testing is something that comes through your individual physician,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “So what this is, today…if someone does not have a doctor they can come in, they can go through a whole series of questions they’re gonna be asked and they’re gonna be given some guidance. And, maybe some information about where they need to go from here.”

The governor said the clinic is a place that can offer peace of mind and potential next steps.

“This gives them a place where they can go, get an assessment, get into the medical system,” he said. “Some people don’t have a doctor. Some people may not even have insurance.”

Mattes appreciates the open door and the free service, but his mind is on the future and not knowing how this derailment could impact him and his wife for years to come.

“I think what we got so far…we’ve had some good answers,” he said. “But, then again, there’s more questions to be asked.

DeWine said so far 38 people out of the town’s 4,700 population have signed up for the clinic. As for air and water quality, the EPA will continue indoor air screening to residents. DeWine said Ohio EPA will continue to test water samples once a week, moving forward. DeWine said residents with private wells will also have their water tested.

According to the governor, 4,588 cubic yards of soil have been removed to date, as well as 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water.

DeWine is also checking with Ohio EPA to see what they can do in regards to the East Palestine Village to expand the state’s H2 Ohio Program to include those who are currently on well service.

On Wednesday, ODH expanded the clinic to include a wider geographical area which will include Unity Township and residents in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

There will also be a new poison-control hotline specific to residents in the East Palestine area. The new number is 1-877-603-0170.

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