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Space still an issue at Lincoln County Health Department

Materials and paperwork fill the corners of her office, but she is happy for every square foot.
Lena Jones, child care health consultant at the Lincoln County Health Department, remembers when she first started her job more than a year ago. The cramped quarters required her to share a desk with another employee. She now has her own modest office and desk.
Ample space hasn’t been provided for everyone at the department yet, but help is on the way.
The Department of Social Services, which occupied two-thirds of the Sigmon Road building, moved out last fall. And county commissioners recently granted the health department $96,000 for renovations to the current building and the hope of a new building by 2008.
But space issues have not been immediately resolved, said Health Department Director Maggie Dollar.
One-third of the building that was added on several years is uninhabitable. The metal addition is being used as county storage.
The remaining 19,400 square feet will be revamped to better serve clients and employees. Construction will begin in the next six months.
For now, things haven’t changed much.
“We’re all working on top of each other, so to speak,” said Dollar.
The Health Department utilizes as much of the building as possible along with a trailer that was donated in the ’90s. The WIC program currently works out of the trailer, but Dollar said conditions are worsening in the aging mobile unit.
“They’ve out grown it,” she said. “The floors are sagging… it really needs to be taken down.”
Structural problems are not limited to the trailer. The main building is in need of repair.
The flat roof continually leaks though its been repaired several times, Dollar said. The heating and air conditioning system is inadequate, and there are no handicapped facilities.
“We do not meet current building or fire codes,” Dollar said.
Once repairs are made, the WIC programs move into the main building and employees are given individual offices, the existing space will be filled.
Dollar said the building has served the department well, but it’s just not able to address the needs of a growing community.
“Our client base has increased so much. We can’t continue working in that clinical area that was built in 1958,” she said.
Since the late ’50s, the health industry has seen incredible changes, and the local health department has increased its services.
Treatment is now offered where diagnostics and referrals once took place.
Focuses have changed from general health to include elements of today’s society including environmental health, home health and bioterrorism.
New HIPAA and privacy laws require individual attention and conferencing.
“Our staff and our patients have made due with a facility that was not built over the years to be a medical facility,” Dollar said. “This building has served its purpose.”
Dollar hopes commissioners will provide the more than 80 Health Department employees with a space that can house every department and amply address the needs of the community, present and future.“I’m very pleased that our commissioners are going to look at a new building,” said Dollar. “It’s very important that our county looks at the health needs of its citizens for 50 years.”by Diane Turbyfill

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