Lawrence County's New Health Department Building
Lawrence County broke ground Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, on a $5.3 million health department building on Missouri Drive. The ceremony was held at the building site at 1549 Missouri Drive, Mt. Vernon. The new health department is made possible by Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds received by Lawrence County.
Expansion of the health department has been a priority for County Commissioners Bob Senninger, David Botts and Tim Selvey since the pandemic hit in 2020 and they witnessed the effect the cramped conditions and limited facilities had on the overworked staff there.
“The pandemic identified our shortcomings in serving citizens of Lawrence County,” noted Selvey.
With the new facility, the county will be better prepared for future challenges. It also will be better positioned to provide services on a day-to-day basis.
“The new building will improve client comfort, privacy and accessibility, provide larger spaces for services and community education and ensure a safer and more efficient working environment for employees,” said Janella Spencer, health department administrator.
New features will include two covered bays to use for drive thru vaccine clinics and child safety seat appointments, major upgrades to the vaccine storage capacity and larger classroom/training space for classes such as on-site food safety education. The number of parking spaces will triple.
The construction cost includes the building, sitework and a 40x60 outbuilding that the county will share with emergency management. It will be located south of the new 911 center constructed by the Lawrence County Emergency Services Board, and the Law Enforcement Center currently under construction by the county. The county purchased the three-acre site from the City of Mt. Vernon for $1 in September 2021.
Esterly Schneider & Associates is the architect for the health department. Branco Enterprises is construction manager at risk.
The health department has occupied a 6,000-square-foot converted grocery store at 105 W. North St. since 1995. It previously was housed in less than a thousand square feet in the courthouse basement. It is operated with county general revenue and grants.
The new quarters will be in a 15,000-square-foot pre-engineered metal building of conventional steel with metal stud construction.
The Lawrence County Health Department offers a variety of services that benefit all Lawrence countians. Some health services include pregnancy testing, Temporary Medicaid for pregnant women, STD testing and treatment, women’s health clinics (including referral for free mammogram), family planning (birth control), reduced cost lab testing, lead testing for children, child care health consultation and childcare provider education, child and adult immunizations, Tuberculosis (TB) skin testing and follow up, Child passenger safety seat program (car seat checks and distribution), community and school education programs, suicide prevention programs and communicable disease investigations.
Environmental services include, food service and lodging inspections, licensed child care facility inspections, loan evaluations, septic system permitting, water testing for private wells, mandated food service training for all food workers, and foodborne/water disease investigations.
Its WIC program provides supplemental food on an eWIC card (milk, fruits, vegetables, eggs, cereal, breads, peanut butter, juice, cheese, yogurt, beans, baby food, and formula if needed). WIC provides nutrition education, lactation consultation, as well as breastfeeding counseling and support. (Must qualify financially) They also have breast pumps available to participants for loan.
The health department is a state registrar and can provide Missouri vital records (birth and death certificates).