DeKalb County Awarded $100,000 for Health Department Improvements

November 16, 2007

The Tennessee Department of Health has presented a check for $100,000 to DeKalb County for renovations to the local health department.

Assistant Commissioner Cathy Taylor, DrPH, MSN, RN, on behalf of Governor Phil Bredesen made the presentation to County Mayor Mike Foster Friday afternoon at the health department.

Dr. Taylor, Assistant Commissioner and Chief of the Bureau of Health Services Administration, was joined by DeKalb County Health Department Director Frances Reece, Regional Health Director Debbie Johnson, and Regional Medical Director, Dr. Don Tansil.

Dr. Taylor says the money will enable the local health department to make some updates in services. "We have a check for $100,000 to enable expansion of clinical services here in the DeKalb County Health Department as well as some refurbishment of the waiting areas and some other needed improvements. We know that this is extremely important in helping improve our health outcomes, not just in DeKalb County, but across the state of Tennessee where we're able to extend primary care and a number of other clinical services that will help us improve outcomes in those measures that we perform so poorly on in national surveys. We think this is a step in the right direction and we're very excited."

Director Reece says construction should begin soon after bids are awarded. "We will be going out to bid and as soon as those bids come in and they are opened, we hope to start (construction) very soon. I'm looking at possible completion late in the spring. We will be doing some renovation of the front counter to make it more private and confidential for the patients when they come in and when we do interviews with them. We will be doing new floors and new counters in updating our clinic rooms to get them more modern and to be more presentable to our patients when they come in. The DeKalb County Health Department is doing an excellent job in serving the citizens in DeKalb County and we want to be state of the art. We are proud to offer our services."

Dr Reece says there should be no disruption of services while construction is underway. "We will not disrupt services. We have a game plan so that services will continue. We may have to move things around a little bit but we will see the patients and we will take care of everybody as they come in."

In a press release, Governor Phil Bredesen says "It is our goal to make primary care services available throughout Tennessee near the places where our citizens live and work. By committing these financial resources to DeKalb County, the State and the Tennessee General Assembly have ensured the residents of this community will have access to these important health services."

In the fall of 2005, the Tennessee Department of Health began offering new or expanded adult primary care services to uninsured residents of Tennessee in an effort to strengthen the state's health care safety net. In June 2006, Governor Bredesen signed the Cover Tennessee Act, which includes initiatives to extend health coverage to uninsured children and chronically ill adults, and creates a low-cost insurance program for uninsured working Tennesseans.

"Our residents in rural areas such as DeKalb County have fewer options for seeking primary health care, so it is a great benefit to have these important services available at the county health department," said State Representative Frank Buck.

State Senator Mae Beavers also represents DeKalb County.

"We are so pleased we were able to work with Governor Bredesen and the Legislature in supporting the provision of primary health care through our health department clinic in DeKalb County," said Taylor. "These services are an important way to prevent serious illness and provide management of chronic health conditions."

The DeKalb County Health Department provides an array of services, including adult primary care, family planning, immunizations, well child/EPSDT 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. Primary care services are offered on a sliding fee scale based on income, with a $5 minimum fee for each visit. Hours for the clinic are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Individuals wishing to make an appointment may contact the DeKalb County Health Department at 615-597-7599.

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