Monday, 18 January 2021

Cole County health building nears opening, with new additions

The new owners of the building at 3400 W. Truman Blvd. in Jefferson City are remodeling before they move in — putting in their dream kitchen.

But this is no custom home. It’s the new location for the Cole County Health Department, and the kitchen is a first-of-its-kind program in which the department is teaming up with the Jefferson City Cosmopolitan Club.

The department is providing the space, and the club invested about $20,000 in the new kitchen, which is intended to be an area where Health Department personnel can teach people who have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and their families how to cook healthy meals.

There doesn’t appear to be any other health departments in Missouri partnering with service providers to expand services within their own buildings, Cole County Health Director Kristi Campbell said.

The department also will partner with the local Lions Club, which will have a room in the new location to conduct vision screenings.

On Oct. 1, Cole County Health will move from its current location, 1616 Industrial Drive, where it is squeezed into a tight 7,700-square-foot building, Campbell said.

“We’re hoping to expand some services,” she said. “We’re hoping to have some community classes because we’ll have the facilities to do that — whether it’s cooking classes or breastfeeding peer counselor groups, on-site sewage courses, food safety courses.”

The current facility doesn’t allow the county to do any of that, she said. The county also will change the way its Women, Infants and Children’s program (WIC) clinic “flows.”

The current building has a room where women take their children to be weighed and measured. If the next staff person the client needs to see is busy, the client has to return to the waiting room. They might have to go back and forth between the office and the waiting room two or three times.

In the new building, there are multiple WIC exam rooms set up to do everything in one place — weigh, measure, take blood, print vouchers and more.

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“So the WIC clients will be able to go back to one room and our staff will come to them, more like a regular doctor’s office,” Campbell said. “It is going to be definitely more client-friendly.”

That’s helpful when you consider the county serves about 1,600 WIC clients monthly, she said.

WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program that provides services to pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children up to their fifth birthday, based on nutritional risk and income eligibility. WIC’s goal is to keep pregnant and breastfeeding women, new mothers and young children healthy.

WIC clients may receive services at any county, not necessarily the one in which they live. A lot of Cole County Health’s WIC clients come to Jefferson City from other counties to work or do their shopping, Campbell said. While they’re here, they get the WIC services they need.

“We have a great WIC staff — I think that’s part of it. And we offer WIC every day,” Campbell said. “Other health departments may only have it a couple of days a week.”

A recent study showed WIC brings about $1 million annually into area grocery stores, she said.

WIC is the biggest change for the new location. Examination rooms will be larger and more comfortable for large families.

The county would like to hire a nurse practitioner so it can see sick people, too, Campbell said.

“Right now, we don’t do that,” she said. “We’re hoping to do that in the new building. There’s still a need in the community.”

Some people go to the emergency room with allergies or upset stomachs because they don’t have insurance or can’t afford to go to an urgent care clinic.

More exam rooms mean fewer people will be left in the waiting room.

Anyone can go to the Health Department for immunizations. The department has programs to assist people with immunizations if they don’t have insurance. People can go there for tuberculosis skin tests for their jobs, if their jobs require. The department can issue birth or death certificates. Anyone can use its services for sexually transmitted disease treatment or testing.

Nurses at the department investigate communicable disease outbreaks. The department has an adult brain injury coordinator.

The new location has two “beautiful rooms” that may be used for community classes.

Billy and Janice Bonnot said the Jefferson City Host Lions Club will use a portable device to offer sight and vision screenings in examination rooms at the Cole County Health Department.

“We just need it semi-dark sometimes, so it needs to be in a room where we can turn the lights off,” Janice Bonnot said.

The device technicians use is a Plusoptix camera, which detects most childhood vision disorders.

The device uses infrared light to scan for lazy eye, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and other disorders, Billy Bonnot said.

The schedule for the screenings has not quite been finalized, they said.

The Lions Club intends to work with the county department to give qualifying adult residents free exams and glasses.

The mission of the Jefferson City Cosmopolitan Club is to contribute to the community well-being through charitable donations and volunteer service with special emphasis on supporting efforts to prevent and find a cure for diabetes, according to the club’s Facebook page.

The local club’s president, Eric Burkett, said it has been conducting diabetes programs with the county health department for about 10 years. The organization has been in Jefferson City for 55 years, he said.

The county went to the Cosmopolitan Club and asked if members would be interested in doing something with the Health Department, Burkett said.

“We jumped all over it,” Burkett said. “It’s right in our wheelhouse.”

The club has been working with the county for about a year to bring the kitchen to fruition.

“It’s going to be very nice,” he said.


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