Health Department in Jackson County nears completion

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Health department employee Joe Rice knows the value of the department's post-Katrina home, situated in a temporary building on concrete blocks.

"We were in a tent so this is a whole lot better," said Health Department employee Joe Rice.  "We were very appreciative of it."

Health Department employees said they were thrilled to move from their makeshift tent into the temporary home.  Years later, they say the facility is getting run down and just doesn't meet their needs.

"The schematic of the building is not set up for what we do," Rice said.  "We have programs that are on one end of the building that have to exit on the other end based on the dynamic of the building.  The waiting rooms are small.  It creates flow problems there."

Just down the street, the Health Department's new home is under construction.  Jackson County Board President Mike Mangum said the 24,000 sq. ft. facility will have 23 exam rooms and large waiting rooms.  Mangum said the project is on schedule, due to be completed in September.

"This facility is about 10,000 sq. ft. more than the previous facility that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina," said Mangum.  "So it will be more spacious.  It will allow them the room to grow that they didn't have before and this will be a great asset to the county."

"The old facility was outdated; it certainly didn't meet the needs of the public," said Rice.  "As we step into the next 20 years of public health, this facility will be designed to accommodate that hopefully."

As moving day draws closer, Rice and his fellow employees are getting more and more excited about their new home.

"The nurses are excited, the clerks, the doctors are proud of what we're going to get," Rice said.  "I think the flow on its going to be a whole lot better, the space is going to be better it's a clean environment, I think the public is going to be happy with it."

Mangum said the project was paid completely through grants, and at no cost to Jackson County taxpayers.

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