YARMOUTH — After providing community-based health medical services for more than 80 years, the Yarmouth Health Council has officially dissolved and is asking the town to take over its assets and run the oft-used medical closet.

Like many longtime volunteer organizations, the council, which began operating in 1939, has seen its membership dwindle to only a handful of active members. Many of the services – which ranged from well-baby checks to high school athletic clinics – are now being offered by other agencies.

The Town Council is expected this week to take a formal vote honoring the group for eight decades of service with “compassion, concern and generosity,” and accept responsibility for the medical closet, according to a proposed resolution.

Rayle Ainsworth was one of the last remaining members of the Yarmouth Health Council, which has dissolved and is asking the town to take over its medical loan closet. File

Rayle Ainsworth, one of the last members of the health council, said while the decision to disband was “a difficult one,” it made sense because most of the membership was in their 80s and facing a number of physical and health challenges of their own.

According to Ainsworth, the Yarmouth Health Council was created by a group of women “who wanted to educate the community about health issues.” She said the council was “particularly active” during WWII, when it focused on offering help and support to new mothers. She said the group offered many how-to parenting sessions and also conducted door-to-door check-ins.

In the 1950s, Ainsworth said the main concern was polio. She said the health council took a lead role in holding immunization clinics, and in those years it also offered physicals for children, along with community dental clinics. Ainsworth said the council also campaigned, unsuccessfully, to get the town to add fluoride to its water supply.

She said the health council convinced the town to hire a public nurse and also initiated the first school-based hot lunch program. When Yarmouth High School was built in the 1960s, the council also convinced the School Department to include a first-ever “sick room,” where students could go if they felt unwell during the school day.

Ainsworth began volunteering with the health council after she retired in 2004. She was aware of the council’s work because the family relied on the services of the medical closet to assist her father-in-law. It was then she realized what “a critical need” the closet met.

Ainsworth said the health council feels strongly that the medical closet, which has operated since the 1940s, should continue. She called the service “incredibly busy and obviously needed” with as many as four to five requests a day for equipment that includes walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, shower seats, hospital beds and adaptive telephones.

Under the health council’s proposal, Yarmouth Community Services would take over the medical closet. Requests for loans of equipment already go through the department and Ainsworth said there are still a few dedicated volunteers willing to man the closet as necessary.

She said the health council has about $400 left in its account, which will be turned over to the town to support the medical equipment program. The resolution accepting responsibility, however, makes it clear the town will only operate it “so long as the need in the community continues and the resources to support the program remain available.”

Comments are not available on this story.