The Audrain County Health Department will soon have a new home.
On May 17, ACHD closed a purchase contract on a facility at 1130 S. Elmwood in Mexico. Efforts are ongoing and plans are to move to the new site by this fall.
According to Audrain County Health Department Board Chairman Dr. Patricia Burke, the health unit has been in need of more useable space for quite some time. She said the major reason for the move is "more usable space."
"When the health unit was no longer under the Compact Agreement and became the Audrain County Health Department, which occurred with the institution of the mil tax last year, and the terms of the leasing agreement changed, the opportunity arose to look critically at all options," Dr. Burke said. She also noted that at the current location, most of the lower level is subject to flooding and cannot be used.
The new facility – formerly the home of the Mexico Drug Rehabilitation Center – is about 9,200 square feet and houses roughly 35 rooms. ACHD Administrator Kevin Lowrance said he started looking at the site in March 2012 – about one to two years after the drug rehabilitation agency closed.
"We looked at several other locations throughout Audrain County and this location fit us really well," Lowrance said. He noted the rooms once used as bedrooms could be easily converted into exam rooms and laboratories for the health department. "They have sinks in each bedroom and the bathrooms are joined together between each of the bedrooms, which will serve us well."
Lowrance said the board wants to do a full assessment on the needs of the community, and based on that, start looking at programs for the future.
"There are a lot of program opportunities we have to choose from. But we need to focus on what the greatest need in the community is," Lowrance said. He noted there is no plan to discontinue any current services.
Lowrance said the board hopes to move "probably in August or September. The department will communicate on that date."