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Ribbon-cutting for health clinic; County building reopens to serve

By Staff | Sep 18, 2008

The Lee County Health Department unveiled the results of the North Fort Myers Clinic renovation project on Wednesday afternoon, showcasing a new state-of-the-art facility that offers medical services in North Fort Myers and Cape Coral.

Officials from the county health department were joined by Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann, who served as the master of ceremonies, and Carol Green, a former state legislator who supported local health issues.

“Cape Coral and North Fort Myers have been growing,” said Judith Hartner, director of the Lee County Health Department. “Also, we recognized that the building was old and it wasn’t serving the public or employees well.”

Hartner explained that the old building had to be torn down and rebuilt so that the facility and services could be improved.

“We just about tore this building down,” she said.

Originally purchased in 1989, the facility at 83 Pondella Road in North Fort Myers had housed a Winn-Dixie grocery store and Eckerd’s Drug Store. The Department of Human Services occupied one side of the building from the mid-1990s until 2005 when the renovation project began.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners appropriated $3.07 million for the renovation and the Florida Legislature provided an additional $400,000.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Hartner explained that the county health department still had to find $1.6 million to cover the costs of construction.

“So we gave up little things until we had enough in the bucket to make it happen,” she said.

Health officials scrimped and saved to raise the additional funds for construction, and while the renovation was under way many staff members were cramped into work space designed for only one person.

Because of the growing local population, as well as new federal and state regulations on health care, a priority for the health department was to create a facility that addressed the needs of heightened security and patient confidentiality issues.

In July, the final inspection was completed, the department received their Certificate of Occupancy and office fixtures were installed.

Services to the community include women, infants and children or WIC, vital statistics, immunizations and women’s health and pharmacy services.

Officials expect immunizations to begin as early as October.

Mann said he was serving on the county commission 15 years ago when the county first took possession of the building and presented a plaque to Hartner on behalf of the commission.

Green commended the representatives working on renovations including Bill Mallett, deputy director of the health department, and Steve Brittain

“There is a need to improve public health in this area. It’s wonderful to pull up to a facility as beautiful as this is,” said Green.