(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Administrator Barry Cook would like to open up the exam rooms to see more people, more quickly, by creating storage space elsewhere. He'd also like to build a larger conference room for meetings and classes.
"We're already filled to the gills," Cook said of the building, which is about four years old.
And thanks to a Missouri Foundation for Health grant, more space could be coming soon.
Other changes and upgrades are also planned for the health departments in New Madrid and Mississippi counties.
According to a news release from the MFH, $13 million will be split between 84 health departments in Missouri.
"You're talking about 84 counties that are going to get significant funds," Cook said. "That is a significant amount of money that counties ought to be able to do something with."
Planning for the grant was aided by ballpark figures for what an individual department is eligible to receive.
"All of the health departments know how much they're going to get," said Melanie Glaus, administrator a the Mississippi County Health Department. A formula was set up, she explained. Each department will receive a base amount of $50,000, plus $2 per resident, according to 2005 population data. Mississippi County is set to receive about $78,000, with Scott and Mississippi counties expecting nearly $132,000 and $87,000 respectively. None of the money can be used on salaries or operational expenses.
"Most of it has to be used for infrastructure," said Charles Baker, administrator at the New Madrid County Health Department. A large chunk of the funds received there will be used to install helicopter pads in the county.
"There are four already, but we're going to build probably another 10 to 12," he said. "This way people who are sick or injured can get to the hospital quicker."
The landing pads will be built as a collaborative effort between the department, county commission, city of New Madrid and the New Madrid County Highway Department, Baker continued.
Excitement is in the air within the communities expecting landing pads. "We've already had calls from several communities who have the ground ready to go," Baker said.
Glaus said the funds will help "enhance the health departments. It will bring us up into the 21st century."
The application indicates plans to replace all the mainframe computers for Mississippi County. The faster systems will speed up the process for printing birth and death certificates.
"We're also going to purchase new software," Glaus said. One program will give reminders for health inspections; another will remind patients of their appointments the day before they are scheduled.
"Hopefully that will help us with our no-shows," she said.
Several pieces of equipment will be purchased, including hearing and vision and electronic blood pressure machines. "I think they're more accurate, but they'll also move patients through more quickly," she said.
Client services are also key in the improvements planned for the Scott County Health Department. "It will definitely enhance our services to the public," Cook said. "We'll be able to see more people, have more exam rooms to get them in and out and more classroom space."
Cook said that plans haven't been finalized yet, since his board doesn't meet until next week. However, he got the OK from the MFH to give estimates and ideas in the initial paperwork and fill in the holes later.
Besides creating extra space for storage, the Scott County Health Department wants to upgrade equipment, which will speed up data entry and other processes.
"Anything you can do like that to speed up productivity helps overall services," Cook said.
Baker, who also plans to add some equipment upgrades at the New Madrid County, agreed. "It will just make it easier for us to keep our records straight and to get the information entered," he said. "And cut down on paperwork."