Wood County Health Department

File. Wood County Health Department.

The Wood County Health Department wants to spend its American Rescue Plan funds on an expansion of its pharmacy.

At Thursday’s board of health meeting, members approved a resolution to use the $517,105 for health center construction and capital improvements.

The plan is to expand the pharmacy into what is now an open-air courtyard, said Health Commissioner Ben Robison.

It is a better way to use the building without expanding the site’s footprint, but will require construction of the new space and a new roof line, he said.

The project “won’t cost us anything out of our existing funds,” Robison said.

The capital improvements part of the plan will be additional exam rooms and more space added to the health center’s waiting room.

Board member Dallas Ziegler said he spent time in the health center’s waiting room last week and it was so packed that social distancing was non-existent.

He said he called Robison and said they needed a larger waiting room.

“We are planning that project with the hope we get the funding,” Robison said.

The department finalized its application for the federal funds last month.

“This just assures that, yes, you as a board are endorsing this process,” Robison said about the resolution approved Thursday.

He explained this proposal can be a standalone project, which will give the board time to address the needs of the rest of the department.

Board member DJ Mears suggested a 1,500-square-foot attachment to the clinic wing.

“I just see the need for us to have more storage and space … in addition to a new waiting room,” he said.

Mears also suggested two floors with a freight elevator to allow storage on the upper floor.

He said while the clinic needed a waiting room, dental needs one as well.

Board member Richard Strow said he didn’t want this project to become the same as building a barn: You design it, build it and then find out it is still too small.

Board President Cathleen Nelson also reminded everyone that a drive-thru at the pharmacy also was discussed.

“We’d love to see it happen, we just need to figure out how to make it happen,” Robison said.

He concurred with many of the ideas that have been suggested.

Robison said he anticipates receiving the federal funds in October as long as their application is approved.

He will talk to all divisions about their needs and map out those priorities and necessary funding.

He will then “take these ideas and bring them to the board to see what they will settle on,” Robinson said.

“We continue to move forward each month. We think it will be months away before it is all squared away,” he said.