Health Department looking at moving to the former Public Defenders’ Office

BEDFORD – Paul Edwards, Registrar at Lawrence County Health Department, and Public Health Nurse Mindy Hopkins presented the commissioners with a request to move into the former Public Defenders’ Office on Mitchell Road.

“We are currently busting at the seams at our current location,” Edwards said.

But before they can do that improvements are needed to the building.

Security glass would be needed at the front desk and a locked door between the lobby area and the clinic area, the carpet would have to be pulled up and replaced with flooring that could be sanitized in the clinic area, and sinks would need to be installed in the clinic areas and a bathroom would have to be installed for patients, rooms need painting, and some ceiling tiles need replacing, blinds for the windows among other items.

A backup generater would need to be purchased for the stored vaccines in case the power ever went off.

“We have thousands of dollars in vaccines and can’t afford to lose them,” said Hopkins.

The commissioners toured the building with health department staff and talked about the move and needed improvements before the commissioners’ meeting.

“You are talking about some high dollar improvements,” said Commissioner Dustin Gabhart. “We could fund some but not all of them, like replacing the ceiling tiles and getting community correction crews to do the painting. You are looking at having to hire contractors to construct the bathroom and replace flooring in the clinic rooms and that will cost between $40 to $50,000 and we don’t have that in our maintenance budget.”

The maintenance budget was nearly drained after the airconditioning unit went out in the courthouse and had to be repaired, Gabhart added.

Commissioner President Rodney Fish asked why the Health Department doesn’t move to the former walk-in clinic.

Edwards said they wouldn’t have control over the space because part of that building is being rented out.

“We need control to deal with things like COIVD and other infectious diseases we may come in contact with. We can’t do that with someone else using the space,” Edwards added. “Plus it poses a security risk without offices being located in two separate buildings.”

If they use the former Public Defenders’ Office they can join that building with their current office which will be used for storage and deliverys.

The commissioners approved the move on the contingency that the Health Department fund the improvements.