Best Practices


Mayor Richard D. Watkins

Canton Community Clinic

A lack of health care for the minority population in the near northeast and southeast sections of Canton had been a serious problem for over 20 years. The problem was first identified in 1970 when the city administration conducted a citizen survey as a part of the federally funded community renewal program. At that time it was noted that there was a general lack of many necessary community facilities to serve that area. Many low income residents of this east side neighborhood did not know how to access the existing health care system and were at a disadvantage, having neither the income or health insurance to seek private medical care.

Previous efforts to provide a health care clinic in this area had failed -- once due to a shortage of seed funds and once due to a lack of facilities. Upon taking office in 1992, Mayor Watkins declared that Canton's citizens could wait no longer for medical care access. He appointed a citizens committee to study the current conditions. Census data indicated that the proposed service area consisted of a total population of 16,778 persons, of which more than half were minorities.

Mayor Watkins then headed a committee to make a free health clinic a reality. He worked with business leaders and was able to purchase a building owned by a local bank for $1. The Mayor was then able to get funding from the City's Department of Community Development to cover necessary renovation construction. A 20-member Board of Trustees, all of whom played a role in soliciting the donations of equipment and supplies, as well as additional funding, was appointed. The Board worked to solicit local physicians, nurses and dentists to staff the clinic on an on-going voluntary basis.

The Canton Community Clinic opened its doors on September 26, 1994. The clinic provides basic medical care, screening, prevention, education, referral and general dentistry. The linic has been able to offer a mobile mammography unit and free flu shots to the community. Although not an emergency facility, the Canton Community Clinic has diagnosed problems as simple as the common cold, and as complex as terminal lung cancer and Hepatitis B. Having solicited the help of pharmaceutical companies, the Clinic is also able to provide many prescriptive medications that its patients could not otherwise obtain.

In its first seven months of operation the Clinic has treated 1,700 patients and estimates that it will have treated 3,400 patients in its first year. The Clinic has collaborated and affiliated with approximately 30 community health care and social service agencies.

Mayor Watkins lobbied at the State Capital for legislation granting malpractice immunity to volunteer health care workers. The legislation has passed the House and is now in the State Senate.

Although the Department of Community Development was able to provide seed money, the Clinic is to be self-sufficient in two years. The Mayor and the Clinic's Director continue working with local businesses, foundations, and local and federal grants to provide future funding.

Now, 100 percent of Canton's population has access to basic medical care and referral services.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (216) 489-3291


Emergency Preempt System

The City of Canton has installed an Emergency Preempt System on the city's main arteries. The system operates by detecting emergency vehicle sirens in the "yelp" mode, approximately 1,200 feet before the approach of an intersection. Once the siren is detected, all traffic signals on the main arteries in the direction of the approaching vehicle turn to priority green and all other directions turn red. The siren holds the traffic signal in preemption until the emergency vehicle passes through the intersection. The preempt system responds to any legal siren of any agency, to include state highway, township, county, and private ambulance.

The system is part of a 100 percent federally funded project which includes new traffic signal controllers. The City's Signal Division installed the preempt system and traffic signal controllers. The Sign and Paint Department has installed extra large street name signs on the traffic signal mast arms. These stand out and are more visible than the corner post-mounted type.

Mayor Watkins stated that the new system has increased EMS response time, which can be life-saving, and has decreased the risk of drivers becoming involved in collisions with emergency vehicles. Along with the installation of the new system, drivers were reminded of their continuing legal responsibility to yield to oncoming emergency vehicles.

Contact: Paul W. Bair, Jr., (216) 489-3241


Focused Community Service Work

Through the local Municipal Court, many misdemeanor offenders are sentenced to serve a specific number of community service hours. The Canton Community Policing Program aids this effort by informing the court of miscellaneous locations within the city that need attention.

Community service workers are then assigned to various jobs which include:

cleaning vacant lots, bagging debris and putting it curbside for city pick-up, mowing lawns and removing weeds;

general litter and debris pick-up in specific neighborhoods, expressways, and parks; weed removal, bush trimming;

cleaning downtown storefronts, sweeping sidewalks and gutters and picking up debris in downtown area;

raking and bagging leaves in various areas;

snow removal from downtown sidewalks, and shoveling snow at the homes of the handicapped or housebound.

The program helps to eliminate overcrowding in jails, places the burden on the criminal rather than the taxpayer, is cost effective for the city, and aids in city beautification and litter control.

Contact: Frank Miller, (216) 489-3200

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

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