Clients seeking medical care, employment training and rental and utility assistance will find more of these services in one place after a planned $5 million expansion and renovation at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.
The services, some of which are currently offered in multiple locations throughout Springfield, will be consolidated as part of the project at the department, 2833 South Grand Ave. E. The building already houses Capital Township offices and the county's Department of Community Resources.
The improvements, which also will redo the health department's front lobby, should be done by late 2023 or early 2024, county spokesman Jeff Wilhite said.
Funded with part of the county's share of federal American Rescue Plan funds, the project also will involve removing the temporary building set up next to the main building in January 2021 for COVID-19 shots and other vaccinations. Enclosed drive-through lanes connected to the permanent building will be established for immunizations and other services, Wilhite said.
The project will add 11,000 square feet to the one-story, 60,200-square-foot building, which formerly housed a Cub Foods.
County government previously bought the building from a private group for $6.5 million, which included initial renovations. The health department began operating at the site in 2010 when department operations from three separate locations were consolidated.
The new location on Springfield's east side culminated years of planning after the 2006 merger of the Springfield and Sangamon County health departments into a single entity operated by the county.
"This is a project we've been working on in a step-by-step fashion since Doris Turner represented this area on the County Board," Board Chairman Andy Van Meter said.
Turner, a Springfield Democrat, served more than a decade on the board before being elected to the Springfield City Council in 2011. She was appointed to the Illinois Senate to represent the 48th District in February 2021 and was elected to a four-year term on Nov. 8.
"Our goal has been to simplify access to critical assistance for those in need," said Van Meter, a Springfield Republican. "If you need help with health care, utility costs, rent, home weatherization or job retraining, you don't care whether that service is coming from Sangamon County, Capital Township or the state of Illinois. You just need an efficient and convenient way to get the help you need."
Van Meter said the "next evolution" of the health department ushered in by the project will move job-search and retraining assistance into the building.
And with expanded hours proposed for outpatient services already provided at the site by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Van Meter said the expansion will bring "a late-night medical clinic directly to the community most in need of these services."
County officials hope to solicit bids and award construction contracts for the project in the spring, Van Meter said. The planned installation of solar panels on the building would supply all of the site's electrical needs going forward, he said.
Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at Illinois Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 217-836-1068 and twitter.com/DeanOlsenIT.