Audrain County Health Department Administrator Kevin Lowrance and his staff are excited to move into a new updated building.
ACHD will be occupying the former Mexico Area Recovery Center located at 1130 South Elmwood in Mexico.
Since the recovery center did in-house recovery, the rooms where people stayed overnight will easily be transformed into labs and examining rooms.
One of the many services that ACHD will continue to provide is environmental public health services, which handle restaurant, lodging, day-care, and sanitary on-site sewer inspections.
Lowrance is very proud of the fact that a lot of the furniture purchased for the various offices was from state surplus. Buying second hand furniture from the state’s surplus saved the taxpayers a lot of money.
“One time we went down there (state surplus), we got $2,000 worth of furniture and filled a U-haul up. When we got the bill back, they give you the amount you paid and the amount of retail. The $2,000 we got was $12,000 retail. So we’re taking good care of the taxpayers money. We’re not buying brand new stuff. We can get by with the stuff that is hand me down. Our focus is customer service and patient care,” Lowrance said.
A new reception area has been established, as well as offices for Home Health and Hospice and Medicaid/Medicare billing.
ACHD decided to move following the expiration of State Statute 70, which was a compact agreement with the City of Vandalia, the City of Mexico, Audrain County Commission, and the Audrain Medical Center.
“All of those entities were responsible for our budget. For many years, we lived off very little budget or income coming in,” Lowrance noted.
For 51 years under the old agreement, Audrain Medical Center had to provide a place for ACHD to operate. However, as of January 1 of this year, new State Statute 205 no longer required Audrain Medical Center to provide ACHD working space.
Since ACHD had to start paying rent to Audrain Medical Center, Lowrance decided to shop for something they could call their own. After much negotiation, the sale on the new building was closed in May of 2013.
While the old building had a basement, only the top portion of the building could be utilized due to flooding issues. The new home of ACHD boasts 9,200 square feet of usable space.
“Its just a big thing for us now as we are totally out on our own,” Lowrance said. “We have always been independent, we have always been an independent agency. We never worked for the hospital or anyone else. People always associated us with Audrain Medical Center, and while we want to maintain that relationship with them, we don’t belong to the hospital and never have. Being independent will bring some headaches but it is an exciting time for us.”
Currently, ACHD’s services include family planning, the women and infant children program (WIC), immunizations, blood pressure screenings, home health and hospice, and copies of birth and death certificates.
Although, with a new building comes new goals. Those goals are to enhance the services they have currently, to offer immunizations and blood pressure screenings in Vandalia on a regular basis, and to expand the foot care program for the elderly.
Lowrance stressed the need for citizens to come out and support health events hosted by ACHD.
“If only two people show up to an event, it makes no sense logistically to continue going to that area and hosting events. If we work together, we can make it work,” Lowrance noted.
For more information on the services that ACHD has to offer, call 581-1332 or visit audraincountyhealth.org.
The Audrain County Health Department will be closed on Monday, September 2, for the Labor Day Holiday.