Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 22, 2013

State, local officials and public celebrate new health department

By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer

CROSSVILLE — A grand celebration and open house with tours was hosted Wednesday at the new Cumberland County Health Department facility on Hwy. 127 S.

"I can't tell you just how excited we are about being in this facility. The staff has been looking forward to it for a long time," said Karen Roper, director of the Cumberland County Health Department.

Roper thanked the Cumberland County Commission, County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. and all of those who were involved in helping make their dream facility become a reality.

Roper also thanked Kim Chamberlin, architect with Upland Design Group, for working with the staff on designing the facility.

State of Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, also joined other state and county officials in Crossville for the open house celebration at the new Cumberland County Health Department Community Health Center.

“We are very pleased to join with the community, local leaders and the great team at the Cumberland County Health Department to celebrate this wonderful new facility and the partnership effort that made it possible,” said Dreyzehner. “Cumberland County can be very proud of the visible way it supports the health of its citizens, particularly many of its most vulnerable citizens, by making this important project a reality. The additional space and many improvements will allow us to be better partners in prevention and the provision of much needed health services here.”

Dreyzehner also thanked the county for stepping up to the plate and committing to funding its portion of the project.

"The grant was a key to the new facility, but without you and your financial commitment, we would not be standing here today. This is a local, state and federal partnership for a primary care center — one of 15 in the state — and you're lucky to have this facility," Dreyzehner said.

Those who attended took tours of the new facility and enjoyed a buffet of healthy snack foods including fruit, crackers and vegetables.

The new facility replaces the outdated health department clinic built in 1967 and provides 30,000 square feet of space, an increase of nearly 17,000 square feet from the former building. The clinic was built as an environmentally sustainable facility according to the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver level certification requirements.

"This is a state of the art facility and we are very happy to have this as it was a much needed facility. I think you will be amazed at what you will see," Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr., said.

Carey also praised and thanked the staff of the health department and all who were involved in the project.

“This new health department facility is the result of a cooperative effort that has been under way for a long time in this community,” said Roper. “Our patients have been very appreciative of both the new building and the services we’re able to provide.”

Dreyzehner also presented Roper with the Commissioner's Commendation Award certificate and medal for her outstanding service to the Tennessee Health Department system.

"This belongs to the whole staff, not just me," Roper said. "Everyone has really given it their all in working at the old location and toward getting this facility ready for the public."

A partnership among federal, state and local government covered the costs of the project. The Cumberland County Health Department received a $4.5 million U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration grant for construction of a new clinic. The Cumberland County Commission contributed approximately $1 million which included purchase of land for the facility.

Dr. Danny Hall said he enjoyed and appreciated the staff being included on the design of the new facility.

"We were able to look at some of the designs from the new facility in Cookeville and were able to take what we liked from there and modify it to our liking for this facility. It's been a great process," Dr. Hall said.

The Cumberland County Health Department is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) providing more than 29,700 patient visits in 2012. A substantial portion of the clinic’s primary care patients, 72 percent, are uninsured, compared to a national average of 36 percent uninsured patients for FQHCs.

The Cumberland County Health Department is at 1503 S. Main St. Services offered include primary care, immunizations, well child visits and health screenings, WIC and nutrition services, breast and cervical cancer screening, birth and death certificates, children’s special services, HIV testing and counseling, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment and communicable disease control.

As a federally qualified health center, the clinic provides primary care services to all patients regardless of ability to pay.

Many Cumberland County commissioners, Crossville City Council members, state officials and members of the public attended the open house. State representative Cameron Sexton and state Senator Charlotte Burks were unable to attend the celebration due to meetings in Nashville, according to Mayor Carey.

Michael Detwiler, field representative for 6th District congressman Diane Black also attended the event.

Hours for the Cumberland County Health Department are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Individuals wishing to make an appointment may contact the Cumberland County Health Department at (931) 484-6196.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.