Commissioners Monday night designated almost $97,000 to help relieve the cramped quarters of the Lincoln County Health Department.
The board unanimously approved the funds, which will go toward minor renovations to the facility on Wilma Sigmon Road in Lincolnton.
And soon, theyâ€™ll consider a new building for the department that could cost the county about $6.47 million. That decision likely wonâ€™t be made until after the results of the $47 million school bond referendum are known, County Manager Stan Kiser said.
The minor renovations are greatly needed to deal with the number of patients Health Department workers are currently seeing, officials said.
â€œIt is a really, really difficult place to work,â€ said Dennis Williams, who headed up the facility study. â€œItâ€™s not even an issue of there is no privacy â€” thereâ€™s not even a place to be.â€
The Department of Social Services shared the building with the Health Department until October when employees moved into a new facility on Main Street.
Faced with a patient load that is skyrocketing, officials say that even the extra room created by DSSâ€™ departure does little to alleviate the space problem.
â€œPatients that come into our building are still going to be going through the maze,â€ said Health Department Director Maggie Dollar, adding that the departmentâ€™s main concern is the patients.
About 438 people come through the Health Department doors each week, Williams said. And there are 84 staff members.
Three areas of the building will be renovated. In the first area, work will be done in the center core of the building in order to relocate medical records and the business office to the center of the building. Minor work will be done at the play area and entry to the new WIC area.
The second area represents the development of the clinic area and handicapped toilets. A substantial amount of work is required, including plumbing, floor cutting and demolition, cabinetry, lights, walls, windows, doors, tiles, hardware and painting.
And the third area involves painting and floor covering for the old DSS center section of the building, as well as minor wall and door work.
Williams estimated that it would take about six months to complete these renovations.
In the coming months, the Board of Commissioners will consider the construction of a new 48,845-square-foot Health Department building and 245-car parking lot, which based on Williamsâ€™ projections will cost $6.47 million.
Hinging on the countyâ€™s approval, the building would be completed by 2008. By 2014, it would be fully staffed but not overcrowded. And if programs continue at their current rates of growth, the building should be able to absorb that pressure for the next 15 to 20 years without significant modifications, according to a report by Williams.by Alice Smith