As a follow up to a story ran by the Edina Sentinel in the fall of 2007, the Knox County Health Department has announced that the grant-funded project from the Missouri Foundation For Health has begun. The health department was notified in early November of 2007, that they, along with nearly all other health departments in the state of Missouri would be receiving grant funds from the Missouri Foundation For Health, with the primary objective to support the infrastructure and expand and enhance delivery of services. It was stipulated in the grant contract that the funds could not be used for staff compensation (salary and benefits) or other general operating expense (ex. travel, supplies and overhead).
Administrator Lori Moots-Clair reported to the Sentinel that the funds had to be used for repair or maintenance projects, office equipment or furniture, educational equipment and information technology. In addition to this information, Moots-Clair stated that the funds arrived in January 2008 and had to be completely spent by December 31, 2008; requiring that the agency move forward fairly quickly with decisions for how to spend the dollars.
With regard to the repair and maintenance needs at the department, the funding could not have come at a better time. After over 10 years, it was noted by the agency in the spring of 2007 that flooring in the building was going to have to be replaced, due to repeat moisture problems, and general wear and tear. There were areas in the clinic rooms where the vinyl was cracking or peeling up, in fact the agency advertised for bids on repair of the vinyl in May of 2008, but decided that funding would be an issue, and the repairs would wait until later in the year. Moots-Clair stated that, "It was almost unbelievable when she received the call that not only would she be receiving grant funded dollars for this project, but would have enough to complete other necessary tasks in the building."
After several board meetings and staff meetings, the agency laid out their priorities for the grant funding. Renovation items to be completed include: expansion of the classroom area in the department, repair of the concrete foundation and replacement of all flooring in the building, painting and finally drainage behind the building. Moots-Clair stated that the outside drainage work was necessary, as flooding in the rear of the building was a common occurrence with heavy rains and then freezing and thawing during winter months. The department has historically battled water running into the building, which has also led to carpet and vinyl problems in the back clinical and break room areas.
The health department asked for bids on the project in January of 2008, and after 5 weeks of working with contractors, on February 20th, opened all bids and accepted a bid from C&C contractors of Memphis, Missouri. The contractors began work in the agency on Monday March 3, 2008, and are making steady progress toward completion. The agency and staff have posted notices regarding the ongoing construction, and have asked the public to please be patient with them. Moots-Clair said, "We are doing our best to have uninterrupted services, but will have to close the front areas to the public on Friday, March 14, 2008, therefore canceling the regular walk-in clinic from 8 a.m. to noon. We will however return to regular clinic hours the following week." When asked what other changes in the schedule would be happening, Moots-Clair said that, "We are doing our best to consolidate lab draws to a couple of days a week, until the clinic spaces are completed, but this will also end next week, and we also expect computer services such as birth and death record preparation to be down for a day, but at this point aren’t sure when." In the event that the computer system would be down, the agency will work with individuals to assure service in another county, or to have the documents ready as soon as possible.
The remaining grant dollars will be spent on office equipment, including the purchasing of pulse oximeter machines for the Home Health Division, vinyl covered benches for the clinic areas and various other equipment upgrades. There will be no general agency funds needed for the project; the agency has laid out a plan for improvement that fits within the dollar amount granted from the foundation.
Due to the construction going on, the agency requests that the community wait until the work is completed to come down and take a tour. But as soon as the work is complete they will plan to have an open house and welcome everyone to come and see the changes that have been made.