Plans for health department expansion move forward
The Stokes County Board of Commissioners is expected to select an architectural firm later this month for the proposed addition to the Stokes County Health Department building in Danbury.
At a meeting last week, the county commissioners agreed to move the item to the consent agenda at their Dec. 26 meeting. The consent agenda is typically approved with little to no discussion.
This year, the health department’s budget includes funding for the construction and equipping of a new building for administrative space. According to Health Director Scott Lenhart, the estimated cost of the health department addition is about $450,000. The project would be paid for using Title XIX Medicaid Reimbursement Funds that can only be used for health department programs. No county dollars will be involved, County Manager Rick Morris reiterated Tuesday in a phone interview.
On Nov. 13, the board of commissioners passed a resolution requesting several firms provide quotes with a fixed fee amount for architectural services for the project. Two companies did not submit quotes, and of the three that did, Peterson/Gordon Architects of Winston-Salem came in with the low bid of $20,000.
Morris and Lenhart recommended the board go with the low bidder. Morris said Peterson Gordon is working on the E911 center and doing a good job.
The commissioners typically discuss an item at a meeting then move it to the action agenda the next meeting for further discussion and a vote, but they seemed fine last week with moving the item to the less discussed consent agenda.
The project should take place in the next calendar year, Morris speculated. The architects will get to work in the early part of January. Lenhart said he hoped the health department could break ground on the project somewhere around April 2013 and be in the building near October.
Lenhart said the addition will provide about 3,000 square feet of administrative space. The addition will probably be located to the left side of the building when facing the front door, and it could be attached to the main building or connected by a breezeway. The exact location will be determined during the design phase.
Explaining the need for administrative space, Lenhart said, “We have outgrown our health department.”
Lenhart said the use of the Title XIX funds for the building should not reduce services at the health center, but instead, lead to an increase in services. The additional space will give health department personnel more room to provide services. The county needs a prenatal program like it had years ago, Lenhart noted, and an expansion could provide room for such services by shifting administrative staff to the new area.
Lenhart expects the project to come in under the $450,000 limit, which would include furniture for the building. The addition will include a break area and community meeting room, areas not available in the current building. Lenhart said he does not even have a break room for his staff. The vending machine is outside and people have to eat at their desks if the small conference room is being used. Some employees do not have desks of their own and some desks are located in public waiting areas, which Lenhart does not think is appropriate.
“We don’t have space,” he said.
An addition with a small kitchen and office and storage space will ease health department operations. Lenhart said, “Nothing elaborate.”
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