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New public health building a 'better fit'

Efficiency for staff and patients improving at former UAW building

July 19, 2012
Jim Krajewski - Staff Writer ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

Bids to renovate the new Hamilton County public health building will be opened next week. Barring changes to the timetable, public health administrator Shelby Kroona said the facility will be renovated in December and opening in January.

Kroona said the former UAW building on James Street will be a better fit for the organization. She said staff has been reduced in the past few years at Hamilton County public health and they have more room than they need at their current facility on Seneca Street. However, it's not laid out well for staff or patients.

"Sort of by chance we realized that the UAW building was vacant and had what we believe to be the amount of square footage that we needed for an effective, efficient health department," Kroona said.

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Hamilton County Public Health Administrator Shelby Kroona says the public health building should be open for business after the first of the year.

For instance, Kroona said the women, infants and children's program, which focuses on nutrition for children from birth to age five, has to be spread all around their current facility. Confidential medical services also intermingle with public areas of the building. Kroona planned the new building with an architect hired by the board of supervisors to create separate public and private sides.

"We were really intentional about how we laid out the building. It will improve our nurse's efficiencies and the way they interact with each other. It will be better for everyone involved," Kroona said.

The new location will also be a boon to public health. Kroona said many of their clients live near the new building and WIC clients that visit their facility will be able to easily use food vouchers at nearby grocery stores.

Parking has also been a problem at the current facility. Patients must park down the street as the current building has no direct parking. Kroona said the new building's lot will easily fit 25 cars. The building is also handicap accessible and will have diaper decks in its restrooms.

Work has begun on a transition plan to the new facility. Assuming their timetable does not change, Kroona said a contract will be awarded on Aug. 14 and the completion date will be Dec. 21. They will then move late in the week after Christmas and reopen early the next week. While they are still planning for a January opening, any changes in the timetable could result in them opening in spring.

"There should not be an interruption of our home health services," Kroona said. "It might just affect walk-in clients or immunization clients for a couple days and we'll alert the public if we have to cancel any walk-in types of services well in advance."

Kroona is looking forward to the new facility and said she is thankful to the board of supervisors for moving forward on the project. She said it will be a nice asset to the community and it will really help staff at public health do their jobs.



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