Officials from the Columbia/Boone County Health Department and the Family Health Center on Monday celebrated the opening of a new building that has enough room to allow both organizations to serve the community better.
The new Sanford-Kimpton building, on West Worley at the site of the old Nowell’s grocery store, has been home to the health department and the center since this summer. Inside, patients are greeted with open ceilings, natural colors on the walls and more space.
The public had the chance to tour the center, which is named for Addie Kimpton, a longtime public health nurse in Columbia, and Mike Sanford, the former director of the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, as part of the opening on Monday.
Sanford’s widow, Marilyn Sanford Hargrove, said at the dedication ceremony that she waited until Monday to view the building.
“I had not had a chance to tour it yet, and kind of saved it for the big day,” she said. “I just had a look at it, and I cannot tell you how thrilled I and the rest of the family are at what has transpired here.”
The health department, which occupies 30,000 square feet of the new building, opened on June 1 and has had more patients since then.
“We are a little more centrally located, and we are still on the bus route,” said Heather Baer, spokeswoman for the department. “We have the free parking right here, that was kind of an obstacle when we were downtown.”
Some minor construction still has to be completed, but everything has gone smoothly so far, Baer said. The parking lot still needs to be repaved, and the department is looking at ways to improve the acoustics in the space to cut down on noise.
The new facilities include a large conference room that has already been used by community groups, and a demonstration kitchen for nutrition classes, Baer said.
The health department focuses on providing health care and education to the community.
The Family Health Center, which occupies 17,800 square feet of space on the other side of the building, focuses on primary care and preventative measures for individuals.
“We’re designed to provide primary care, the kind of care you get at your doctor’s office, to patients who for some reason or another run into a barrier in accessing that care,” said Gloria Crull, executive director of the center.
The new space is a lot roomier compared to the 9,700 square feet at the center’s previous location.
A storage room and offices for patient education and social work still need to be completed.
Since moving into the space, Crull said the center has seen an increase in patients.
“We added two physicians and that is part of the reason,” she said.
Before it moved to the new building, the center didn’t have the space to hire more doctors.