Health center to expand services

Part of the Wood County Health District needs restructuring as the clock ticks on renovations included in
a grant to its health center.
The board of health shuffled staff and created new positions Thursday to accommodate more clients and
expand services at the health center.
In addition to naming a permanent chief executive officer and creating positions for an expanded
pharmacy, board members heard an update on plans to restructure space and create a better flow within
the Wood County Community Health and Wellness Center, located within the health district.
The clinic late last year received a federal grant that’s expected to become an ongoing funding source as
long as its requirements are met, namely serving more patients and offering more treatment options. It
has received $787,500 this year and will get $650,000 in 2015, with up to $100,000 in this year’s money
allowed to go to renovations. The grant will be re-evaluated after two years.
There will be additional exam rooms and a general restructuring that will allow patients to move through
clinic areas without creating bottlenecks or the need to return to other areas. Another focus is
reconstructing the pharmacy area that will offer patient prescriptions, rather than just samples and
basic medications as it does now.
The board approved new positions including a pharmacy manager, pharmacy technician and behavioral health
specialist. Ben Batey, former director of nursing, had been serving as CEO of the clinic and will now be
in that position permanently with a salary of just over $75,000. The board voted to post as available
the nursing director position, which had been filled as an interim position by Amy Jones. Also Thursday,
the board tabled the addition of several other positions, including a chief operating officer and a
position for someone to manage the health district’s accreditation process.
Much of the discussion Thursday centered on where the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program will be
located, as it will be moved to create four new exam rooms in the health center.
The nursing department provided the board with a rationale for why WIC should be relocated to the health
district’s meeting room, where the board of health as well as the health center board meet monthly,
along with other community meetings held in that space. The document stated that moving costs would be
lower than other options, which include renting a trailer or off-site office space for WIC. In addition,
keeping it within the health district building would maintain the patient experience of a "one-stop
shop" and not require those visiting for other services to go to another location. It also states
the cost to operate the program itself would go up.
"The main reason we would like to see WIC stay here would be the service to the client," said
Martha Gonzalez, WIC director. "There are other services here that can be obtained by all of our
Board members noted that a decision must be made quickly, though they agreed to table it until next month
to allow the program and finance committees to gather more information on the costs associated with each
option. Renovations are intended to be complete by September, when a visit from the Health Resources and
Services Administration, which awarded the grant, is expected.
Board member Richard Strow suggested the board’s inconvenience in finding another meeting location is a
lesser factor, but more important is what would become of the operations center for community
emergencies, which is also located in the board room and consists of equipment that could be difficult
to set up somewhere else.
The board agreed to assign the program committee, with health district staff assistance, to determine the
approximate costs and feasibility for each option, and for the finance committee to evaluate the matter
in preparation for action next month. An alternate location for the operations center will also be
"We’ve got to make this happen right now. Yesterday would be about the right about of time to have
this all done," Strow said.