MARION – A year after renovation stopped on its new site, Center Street Community Health Center is ready to complete the project.
“It’s been a long process, but I think a healthy process,” said CEO Cliff Edwards, referring to a project from which the original contractor was fired after progress did not meet the board’s expectations.
The health center board hired Stevens Construction Co. Inc. of Marion to finish the renovation at the 136 W. Center St. property, which the board purchased in June 2010. The cost to complete the work will be about $1.2 million, Edwards said.
He said he expects the health center to move the medical facility from its location on the second floor of the Marion CAN DO! building at 205 W. Center St. to its new home across the street early this fall.
With pledges totaling $310,000 by Marion Community Foundation, United Way of Marion County and Marion General Hospital Foundation, the health center was able to secure a loan from Chase Bank to resume and complete the project.
“I think that’s awesome,” Edwards said. “It’s one new shining example of the Marion community recognizing a need and seeing this project is needed for the good of Marion. I’m honored and humbled.”
Brad Bebout, Marion Community Foundation president, said the foundation’s board considers completing the new medical center to be extremely important.
“We are just so pleased with the growth of the Center Street Community Health Center and the quality and extent of services that they’re providing that we could just not let this fail, because they’re doing a fantastic job,” Bebout said.
The federally qualified health center receives annual federal grant assistance. It is moving its medical center because it needs additional space to serve its growing number of patients, said Linda Wilson, operations manager.
The number of unduplicated patients has increased from 974 in 2008 to almost 4,000 in 2011, and the number of patient visits has grown from 4,000 in 2008 to almost 16,000 in 2011, Wilson said.
“There’s a great need,” she said. “So many people are employed and don’t have insurance or are unemployed and don’t have insurance.”
The health center accepts all at the dental center and medical center, Edwards said. The facility accepts all private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and managed care programs under Medicaid such as CareSource, Molina and Buckeye. The center charges customers on a sliding scale.
“It truly is a sliding scale, not a free clinic,” he said.
The new facility, adjacent to the dental clinic that opened in November 2010, will have 15 examination rooms and a staff of about 35, including three physicians, a nurse practitioner and seven nurses.
The center also offers pharmaceutical care.
Edwards expressed his gratitude to the three organizations that provide operating funds to the center for making the extra pledge of funds the center needed to secure the loan to complete the project.
He said the board learned from its experience with the first contractor, Phoenix of Ohio LLC, when choosing a new one.
The board formed a building committee, consisting of Ted Graham, Tom Bostic, Larry Geissler, Lowell Thurston, Karen Ream, John Scharer, Doug Boyer and several of its own board members. The board also formed a financing task force consisting of Ted Babich, Geissler, John Garnes, Bostic, Colleen Ogle, Pam Stone, Greg Rose, Suzie Brown, Doug Ford and Gary Iams.
Contractors submitted bids ranging from slightly less than $1 million to $1.3 million. The board chose Stevens Construction, although it was not the lowest bidder; Edwards said Phoenix of Ohio had submitted the lowest bid when the project was first advertised.
“The difference is we pulled in expertise that we lacked,” he said. “This is a reputable local contractor that has experience with this scope of project.”
He said Phoenix of Ohio underestimated the cost of completing the project; local commercial contractors expressed the opinion that Phoenix of Ohio did the amount of work it was paid to do. He said the board submitted information about the bid and the work done to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. Prosecutor Brent Yager said his office is reviewing the information.