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NEW HOME FOR THE PARIS/LAMAR COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT? – This facility, the former home of the Department of Human Services at SW Fourth Street and Sherman St. is one of two buildings (along with the emergency room of the south campus of the Paris Regional Medical Center) that has emerged as the projected new home of the Paris/Lamar County Health Department. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
Shown is a side view of the former home of the Department of Human Services. Should the health department renovate and move into the buiding, the back half of the 20,000-square-foot building is proposed by administrator Gina Prestridge for use by various non-profit organizations. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
Another view of the old DHS building, looking at the front of the building from the side. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
The former location in Paris of the Department of Human Services has emerged as one of the two leading candidates as the next home of the Paris/Lamar County Health Department.
Health department administrator Gina Prestridge told board members new and old on Tuesday night that she has prepared a budget request for the $200,000 purchase of the old DHS building at SW Fourth Street and Sherman Street, plus about $100, 000 in renovation that would be needed.
“Everything else I looked at was 20 percent cosmetic and 80 percent major structural. This one is kind of the opposite,” she said. The building is now boarded up; the windows and carpet would have to be replaced. The building also needs a heating unit and air conditioning unit.
The other possibility is moving into the space that is now the emergency room of the south campus of Paris Regional Medical Center, which is in the process of a move to the north campus.
Both would accommodate the need of the health department for a 10,000 square feet facility. The health department is now in an old and deteriorating 6,000-square-foot building two blocks south and two blocks west of the DHS building.
“As everybody knows, our facility is in disrepair. There’s a lot of issues with the facility – numerous issues. We need roughly 2,000 to 4,000 more square feet in order to accommodate our needs. We’re on top of each other – file cabinets everywhere, it’s crazy,” Prestridge said.
“We’re starting to do some more outreach just in the last couple of months. We’re starting to see more clients, and our primary health care is starting to really grow,” she said.
“We went to TCIM last week and did a big marketing project, signing up numerous individuals who didn’t even know about the services we offer. So we’re really starting to see an influx,” Prestridge said.
“The stench of raw sewage during the day from underneath the building is more than we can handle. There is mold on the ceiling. As everyone knows who’s been in our building, it’s a turnoff,” she said.
“We say we have quality health care, but when you bring people to the facility, it’s kind of like, really apprehensive. We’ve got a quality team, we’ve got everybody in place. We just need the support to have the new facility to become that stand-alone clinic that we know we can become.”
If the health department were to move into the 20,000-square-feet old DHS facility, it could use the 10,000 square feet in the front half of the building and sub-lease the 10,000 square feet in the back half of the building to multiple non-profit organizations, Prestridge said.
Board member Bill Strathern said PRMC president Bill Porter said he likes the idea of leasing the south campus emergency room to the health department, but would have to run it by his corporate board. Strathern and county judge Chuck Superville proposed a rate of $1 a year for 10 years.
The hospital is anxious to alleviate fears the south campus could turn into an eyesore after many functions are moved to the north campus, said Dr. David Carpenter, one of six members whose terms of office expire on July 1. A new city police limits members of city boards and commissions to a maximum of two successive 3-year terms.
Five of the six members whose terms take effect on Sunday were present – Dr. Keith House, Dr. Bill George, PRMC marketing specialist Kristi Martin, Dr. Rick Erickson and Dr. Mark Gibbons. A sixth newcomer, Dr. Lav Singh, was not present. They will join Strathern, who was appointed last year and is the only holdover from the present board.
Prestridge said at one point the old home of the Paris Police Department, at West Eighth Street and Bonham Street, dropped into disfavor because asbestos issues increase to about $760,000 the cost of renovating it.
“I’ve been searching and searching and searching. I’ve done a lot of digging, and there are not a lot of 10,000 square feet buildings in Paris. There are huge buildings out on Clarksville Street, such as the old Phillips Lighting building that is more than we would ever need,” she said.
Prestridge also looked at an old restaurant supply building on Nineteenth Street. “It looks like an old Dollar General,” she said. The estimates on renovating it are “a half million dollars to get us into a $230,000 building,” making that a less-feasible option, she said.
She said prospects look good for an application she is completing this week for $100,000 in emergency preparedness funding.
“And we have a very exciting project we’re discussing with the county in which we would go into partnership with them possibly on their indigent health program. We would become a hub for that program if it’s approved by the county commissioners, and would generate revenue for the department,” she said.
“If we come into a memorandum of agreement with the count, it looks like we’re going to have up to 150 new clients coming to the health department monthly. We already service approximately 2,000 clients at the health department on a monthly basis,” she said.
“Another thing we’re looking at right now is taking our clinic to being opening 10 hours a day, four days a week – from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday – to better serve the population. It’s very helpful for our clientele that we serve, allowing them to come in before work or after work for immunizations for their children.”
Four of the six incoming new members of the Paris/Lamar County Advisory Board of Health are shown at Tuesday night’s meeting — the last for the existing board, most of whose members have been on the board for more than 20 years. From left are Dr. Rick Erickson (ear, nose and throat) , Kristi Martin (hospital marketing), Dr. William George (dentist), and Dr. Keith House (veterinarian). (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
A fixth new member, effective July 1, is Dr. Mark Gibbons (ear, nose, throat), sitting by the city’s new city manager, John Godwin (left). The sixth new member, Dr. Lav Singh, did not attend Tuesday night’s meeting. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
From left to right, city manager John Godwin with the outgoing members of the Paris/Lamar County Advisory Board of Health — Dr. Wally Kraft, Dr. David Carpenter, Brady Fisher, Dr. Robert Moseley, Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville, and Precinct 1 county commissioner Lawrence Malone. (eParisExtra! photo by Charles Richards)
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