County begins grant search for health building

Commission doesn’t want to be caught ‘flat-footed’ if Rolling Hills building sells

By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

Potential funding sources to renovate or build a new health department building were outlined for Republic County Commissioners Monday.

The health department is currently located in space leased from Rolling Hills Electric on US81 Highway, and the building is for sale, commissioners said. Rolling Hills offered to sell the location to the county for $350,000, commissioners said, and the board estimated it might need another $150,000 in renovations to make it a permanent option for the health department.

The health department moved about a year ago from its longtime downtown location on 18th St. because the building was leaking despite a new roof, commissioners said.

Commissioners directed Emily Benedick, assistant director and community development representative for North Central Regional Planning Commission, Beloit, to collect data from health department director Danielle White to determine grant, loan or tax credit programs that might help finance a permanent site.

“Would there be any funds to demo an existing building to put a new building at the same location?” asked Commissioner Melvin Jeardoe. Benedick said she believed that might be a possibility, as well as renovation of an existing building.

Fast track

Commissioners said recently they want to immediately begin to gather information on the county’s options in the event the Rolling Hills building sells.

“We don’t want to get caught fl at-footed if Rolling Hills is able to sell their building,” said Commission chairman Ed Splichal. “We have been told verbally that we have an extension (on the lease), but depending on a buyer who may want the building sooner rather than later, we might be in pinch. “We can’t afford $350,000, and we need to get the ball rolling on what kind of grants are available.”

Commissioners plan to meet next Monday, May 21 at 11 a.m. in the commission meeting room with hospital, health department and representatives from other agencies to discuss home health care. The board recently made a decision that the county health department will not offer Medicare-eligible home health, but will offer home health services through Medicaid or private pay.

White said the department currently provides home health-related services to about 35 residents.

The health department oversees a myriad of public health initiatives, from immunizations and assistance programs for infants and children to epidemic response, sanitation, and mass casualty planning.

Among recent statistics:

  • From May 5, 2017 to May 7,2018 the department administered 908 vaccinations to the public.
  • For calendar year 2017 served 166 client’s within the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) program.
  • In 2017 provided in home services for 69 clients in which entailed 2,516 home health visits with 3.5 FTE (full time equivalent) home health employees

The department’s $467,000 budget is funded by about $203,000 in tax dollars, and the remainder in grants and payments for services. Last week, the commissioners transferred $150,000 in carryover funds from 2017 to a capital improvement fund and county building fund, saying they want to earmark money for an eventual new home for the health department.