MCPHD clinic opening delayed
CARLINVILLE (Aug. 16, 2018) – Though Macoupin County Public Health Department’s WIC program moved into Carlinville’s new Morgan Street Clinic in early August as planned, Administrator Kent Tarro said it will likely be October before the clinic is up and running as a whole.
The delay is the result of a combination of factors, but a primary one was electrical problems that were discovered in the building during the renovation process.
“We had two or three different big electrical problems,” Tarro said, noting the electrical box for the building was on the wrong side of the building and wasn’t connected to everything in the building. “So if you had a fire and they wanted to shut off the power, you only cut off half the building,” he said. The installation of the generator caused another delay, because the power line coming into the building was not of a high enough capacity. “That delayed us about two months.”
In addition, there were some delays with selecting phone and software systems. “We have a little bit of work to do to make sure the right phones are ringing when someone calls in, and that took a little longer than we wanted,” he said. “The cabling took longer than we wanted, and making sure we had the right computers coming in held us up another couple of weeks.”
Initially, Tarro had planned to have the clinic open in time for the back-to-school season and bring some already-trained staff over from Maple Street Clinic to help with the transition, but he ultimately decided it would be better to wait until the new Morgan Street Clinic staff members are properly trained, because bringing in borrowed staff would likely be less efficient in the long run. “We’re so much more efficient in Maple Street that all I’d be doing if I brought the staff over here is switching them back and forth and probably be less efficient doing it.”
The 5,000 square foot building, which is located at 1115 East Morgan Street and was formerly the Carlinville Area Hospital medical clinic up until a couple years ago, is still undergoing the final stages of the remodel — a project with a price tag of about $650,000. By comparison, the renovations required to open Maple Street Clinic in Gillespie amounted to about $2.2 million.
The new clinic includes four dental chairs, three medical exam rooms and a room for psychiatry or counseling, offices, a lab, a meeting room, a break room, restrooms, and a waiting room, in addition to the WIC-specific space on the north side of the building.
Work on the building has entailed completely changing its layout. “The place just didn’t look like this at all,” Tarro said. “There’s going to be somewhere around 16 or 17 people here all the time, and I don’t know that there was ever that many people here when it was the Carlinville professional building, so we did a whole lot to make sure that everyone’s got their own space.” Because of state and federal regulations for health centers, nearly every room had to be resized. “In the dental area, we had to take out walls because it was either offices or exam rooms, and put in new walls so that they were evenly spaced to allow a dentist or hygienist or assistant to do their work.”
Other interior changes included installing all new flooring and some new ceilings; painting; converting offices to restrooms; installing all new electrical wiring, cabling, and telephone system; installing security measures; and plumbing work. Exterior changes included tuckpointing, painting, installing a generator, and adding a sign.
Much of the equipment and furniture still needs to be set up, and a fourth dental chair still needs to be purchased. There are also several finishing touches that need to be completed. “We haven’t yet gotten a punch list of everything that needs to be fixed,” Tarro said after noticing a cabinet’s doors weren’t properly aligned. Other work that remains includes networking for the computer systems, some security measures, repairing the sidewalk, and hiring a few more employees and getting them trained.
“The big advantage to this place that we don’t have at Maple Street is that I have as much storage as I have office space,” Tarro said, noting the Morgan Street Clinic has an additional 5,000 square feet of storage space in the basement, which he does not intend to use for patient care in the future. “We’ll probably still run out of storage space, but it’ll be a much longer time before that happens, and that is great.”
“We’re going to integrate the medical, dental and WIC programs so that the medical staff will be able to help with the WIC program — measurements, blood taking, lead, things that they’re good at — and the WIC program will be able to concentrate on nutrition, education, and working with the families.” He thinks having the clinic be entirely on one floor — in contrast to Maple Street Clinic, where services are split between several levels — will help with the integration. “What I think will happen is that many more children coming through the WIC program are going to be much more comfortable going to the doctor and dentist than they ever were, because we’re going to give them access here while they’re here.”
Tarro estimates the new clinic will serve at least 2,000 to 2,500 patients per year. Some of those will be completely new, while he expects others will come to the Carlinville clinic instead of the Gillespie clinic, which serves about 8,200 per year, thereby helping to free up the providers’ jam-packed schedules in Gillespie for additional patients. “It’s a lot to get in to see us,” said Tarro of Maple Street Clinic. “Every one of my disciplines, even the immunizations, is booked way out.”
Tarro noted his biggest concern is whether or not the existing parking lot will be big enough; if it’s not, he’ll have to expand it to the west. “That’ll give me 15 or 16 spaces immediately, but it’s going to come at an expense,” he said.
Overall, the new clinic “really is an upgrade” from the facilities at 805 North Broad Street, Tarro said. “I think everybody’s pretty excited about that. I think they’ll be even more excited when we get the other things here and you can come here and get your immunizations and everybody will be together without falling all over each other.” That building will continue to be used for billing, finance and accounting purposes.
Tarro said opening the Carlinville clinic was a vision he shared with his public health board. “The board really thought this was something that could be critical to making sure we meet more needs and everyone can get in to us in a decent amount of time,” he said. “I really can see it coming together and look forward to meeting the needs of people.”
Macoupin County Public Health Department plans to open a new clinic at 1115 Morgan Street in Carlinville in October. The county’s WIC program has already moved into the space as of Aug. 6.
Macoupin County Public Health Department Administrator Kent Tarro talks to a WIC program staff member at the new clinic on Morgan Street.