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Public health administrator proposes building makeover

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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MORRIS – The Grundy County Health Department could undergo a makeover if a plan presented at last week’s Facilities Committee meeting moves forward.

Philip Jass, Grundy County Health Department’s public health administrator, proposed to the Grundy County Board’s Facilities Committee the health department acquire the current sheriff’s office within the county administration building and use it as part of a new centralized waiting area.

“I’m trying to figure out a way to make the health department more efficient and more productive,” Jass said.

Currently, the department has three different secretaries managing three separate waiting areas – a clinic area, a seniors’ area and a mental health area.

Jass said he wants to make the health department more like a doctor’s office by consolidating the areas into one waiting room with check-in and check-out stations.

“You check in, sit down, read some magazines, watch some health education videos then someone calls your name and you go,” Jass explained. “Nobody else in the room knows why you’re there.”

With no central check-in system, Jass said patients can wander the building or the health department without administrators knowing.

“This all started with the building security topic,” Jass said. “Most of the people who come into this building are here for the health department, and as of now, there is no control over the people coming in.”

The new floor plan would combine the mental health therapist’s office and mental health waiting area into one waiting room. The sheriff’s office would become the administrative office for the three secretaries and include check-in and check-out windows to keep track of patients coming in and out.

Jass’s proposal is contingent on a decision regarding the county board paying part-time deputies to patrol the administration building at all hours.

Presently, the county provides an office in the county administration building for the local D.A.R.E. officer, and in return, he patrols the building part-time.

“I’d be happy to continue that arrangement, but the county has mentioned wanting an officer there all the time,” said Kevin Callahan, Grundy County sheriff.

Callahan said if the county decides to replace the D.A.R.E officer with other deputies, then he would no longer need the sheriff’s office within the county building.

“If the county decides to move forward, my D.A.R.E. officer would be pulled out of there and moved somewhere else,” Callahan said. “Really all the new deputies would need would be a front desk by the entrance.”

If the county does not approve the added security patrols, then Jass said his proposal would fall through.

The board will discuss, and possibly make a decision about hiring the additional security patrols at tonight’s county board meeting.

Facilities Committee Chairman John Roth did not return calls before press time.

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