Remodel reaches halfway point for joint city-county Public Health Department

Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 9:57 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Next year, everyone in Lubbock County can benefit from the new and improved Public Health Department.

The City of Lubbock is partnering with Lubbock County to also serve those who live outside the city limits.

The joint health department is getting a new look, too. The remodel is about halfway through at the new facility off 50th Street and Avenue U.

It’s been a long journey for the health department in Lubbock, from almost being shut down in 2011, to becoming one of the fastest-growing departments in the city. Director Katherine Wells says when she started in 2015, it had about 10 employees. Now, 60 will move into the new facility.

“The events with COVID-19 really put public health in the spotlight and showed the importance of public health in our community,” Wells said. “With the additional funding coming in from the federal government that let us move quicker and actually allocate some funds and actually get shovels in the ground.”

The City of Lubbock pushed more than $6 million into the remodel, alongside $3.5 million from Lubbock County. Money from the American Rescue Plan Act, federal COVID-19 relief funding, helped set the project into motion.

Right now, Wells says the facility downtown serves its purpose, but things are a little cramped.

“We have three staff in what should be a one-person office. We have cubicles shoved into conference rooms. We’re definitely on top of each other, and we are excited about new space, expanded clinical services, expanded services to families in our community,” Wells said.

For that expansion, what was once an old thrift store is now being completely transformed. There will be large spaces for cubicles, offices, a lab, pharmacy, nurses’ station, conference rooms, a breakroom, and six clinical rooms.

“We actually have a dedicated clinic space. So, it will look like a doctor’s office that we see with all of our private physicians in town,” she said.

Wells is excited about the large classroom on the west side of the building. It will fit up to a hundred people, where Wells says educational training and community meetings will be hosted. The department will also be able to host meetings for its community coalitions that usually have to reserve space at the Civic Center.

“We’ll be offering some parenting classes, classes for teens, really being able to expand both the community space, the office space and the clinical space,” Wells said.

There’s more room on the outside at this location, too, with a large parking lot along a Citibus route.

“It’s centrally located. We’re close to the highway. I think it’s going to be an easy place for people to find and then it’s also going to have lots of parking,” she said.

The Dollar General is still leasing the space next to the department. Wells says the City is looking at alternatives for them, so public health can move into that space and expand clinical care.