Program growth has necessitated ongoing JCHD expansion project

Published 9:30 am Friday, August 11, 2023

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The Jessamine County Health Department (JCHD) is undergoing a 4,910-square-foot expansion of its Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) area and community room and a renovation of its Harm Reduction area. 

According to JCHD officials, the health department has grown from 22 employees to 39 employees since Fiscal Year 2012. Through this growth, the 1,600-square-foot space no longer meets the needs of the staff or the public. COVID has also emphasized the Health Department’s need for facility expansion and renovation. 

This expansion will be called the McCaw Wing, named after Dr. William C. McCaw, who has volunteered on the board of health as its leader for 40-plus years.

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Former JCHD director of 22 years, Randy Gooch, has constantly thanked the department’s board and called McCaw “very deserving of being recognized. He has served through every director that has been in place there at the JCHD since its implementation.”

“I’ll have to say, one of the things I never expected in my life was to have my name on a building. It’s a humbling experience,” McCaw said.

The HANDS program has grown significantly over the past 10 years.

In 2012, JCHD had one part-time HANDS team member. Today, the program has grown to include four full-time and two part-time employees. This team has been utilizing an old records storage room for four employees who work in an open-office environment. Individual space is now necessary for HANDS team members to stay compliant with HIPPA policy- whether their meetings are virtual or in person. 

The Harm Reduction Program was launched in 2016 with the start of the Syringe Exchange Program (SEP). It has gone from zero to five employees, and because of its growth, offices are scattered across the health department making it difficult for team members to communicate and meet patient needs. 

The HANDS area expansion will be 1,432 square feet and will meet the needs of a growing staff. It will include six private offices, a family visitation room, lobby areas, and a storage and workroom. 

The multi-purpose community room will be 3,478 square feet. New functions for this room will include mass vaccination and testing, surge space for disease investigation/contact tracing, community engagement and team meetings or trainings.

The previous community room will be renovated to house the Harm Reduction Program. The finished 1,300-square-foot area will include staff offices, a SEP service area, and waiting area and dedicated storage space. 

The new wing will not need any financing, and Gooch said he is proud of that.

The JCHD applied for two grants to fund part of the expansion.

The health department received $384,000 from Emergency Response Grant Funding and $524,000 from the Maternal and Child Health Local Grant through the HANDS program. The JCHD has about $1.9 million in local funds to fund the rest of the project. 

Official construction began on Aug. 8 and is expected to be completed by summer of 2024.