Health center, county health department to study co-location
April 9, 2014
Wahkiakum County's Health Department may someday share quarters with the Cowlitz Family Health Center Clinic.
Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday affirmed their interest in seeing the Health and Human Services Department (H&HS) explore the concept, called co-locating.
H&HS has a split campus, with administrators and the health department located in the courthouse annex and mental health, chemical dependency and similar services offered at the campus on Elochoman Valley Road.
H&HS staff area already considering how the Elochoman Campus could be upgraded and expanded to house the department's entire program.
Meanwhile, H&HS administrators have been discussing the idea of co-locating with the clinic.
The Family Health Center is headquartered in Longview and has clinics in Woodland, Kelso, Longview, Long Beach and Cathlamet.
H&HS financial officer Chris Weiler said the goal of co-location would be to provide better service to clients by having providers working together and communicating about clients' needs. Patients would have the convenience of having all providers in one location.
The Family Health Center has already signed a letter expressing interest in studying over the next 12 months the possible co-location.
There's zero obligation, but we can study the possiblities," Weiler said.
By committing to consider co-location, the two agencies can become eligible for grant funds that would further the project, he added.
"We would like to see if we can raise a couple million dollars to pull this off," he said. "All we want is the green light to work with Family Health Center to see if there's an advantage."
Commissioner Blair Brady moved to have the board of commissioners sign a letter supporting further study of co-location.
"I think we've given that approval many times," he said. "It's exciting. I hope it works."
Commissioner Mike Backman, new to the board, seconded the motion and commented he would like to see the service providers use existing county facilities to the fullest extent possible. He would also like to see a timeline for the project so that it keeps progressing."