Health Department move could cost $2.8 million

NORWALK The Huron County Health Department wants a new address. Department administra
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



The Huron County Health Department wants a new address.

Department administrators would like to place an 0.3-mill levy on the November ballot to raise about $2.8 million to fund its relocation.

"We want to do this because of two reasons," health department Administrator Tim Hollinger said. "It would allow us to move to a new building, and another reason being we need to pass an accreditation for public health."

Hollinger explained that an Ohio accreditation board is being formed. The board will travel to all health departments in Ohio to make sure facilities are up to code.

"We would not pass right now," Hollinger said.

He said there are several reasons why the 50-year-old building at 180 Milan Ave. in Norwalk would not pass inspection. His listed reasons range from the fact that the clinic is not handicap accessible to the fact that it is so small that nearly everyone in the clinic is within earshot of patients discussing health concerns.

At the same time, Hollinger said the need for the health department's services is on the rise. With higher health care costs, the increasing number of uninsured and only a limited number of doctors accepting Medicaid, the department has seen a surge in its client base. It serves about 700 people a month.

"Our clinic used to run two days a week, now we're up to five," Hollinger said, noting the importance of having an outstanding facility.

The proposed new location is on Executive Drive next to Fisher-Titus Medical Center and the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services. It would offer 11,000 square feet, about 4,000 more square feet than the health department occupies now. The extra space could mean the addition of a dental clinic.

"A lot of people in Huron County don't have a dentist," Hollinger said, discussing the possibility of pursuing a dental grant in conjunction with Erie County. "Many of the poor or middle class have nowhere to go."

Hollinger said he has already presented the department's intentions to the Huron County Commissioners. Their approval is needed to forge ahead. The 10-year, nonrenewable levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $9.19 annually.

If the proposed levy is passed in November, Hollinger said the department could relocate by spring.