SALT LAKE CITY — Locals have been going to the same place for public health needs, including immunizations, vital records, WIC and more, for 54 years. But now, there's a brand new building offering the same services the public is used to.
"It's a great building," said Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, which opened the doors at its flagship facility, at 610 S. 200 East, on Thursday. "It's a great service for the community."
The two-story, 40,000-square-foot health center was built on the same site as the original Salt Lake City Public Health Center, offering a fairly seamless transition for patients, with more clinic and office space and updated equipment.
It provides the familiar public health services, including WIC, immunizations, vital records, clinics for sexually transmitted disease and tuberculosis, epidemiology services, plus a new primary care facility operated by Community Health Centers Inc., where individuals and families can get routine primary care from a physician.
Edwards said having primary care services on board will provide a "medical home to care for family health care needs," but also coordinated services with the other faculties that public health provides — kind of a one-stop shop for health care needs.
Prior to the new build, Salt Lake County Health Department staff squeezed into an old and dilapidated building constructed in 1965, which had been added onto one too many times. It had its problems, including that the massive HVAC system didn't work, making conditions uncomfortable for staff and clients.
The health department's STD Clinic and Prevention Program, because of growing demand, outgrew its space in the old building; as did the WIC space for pregnant women, new mothers and young children with nutritional needs.
At one time, the building was treated for asbestos surrounding pipes in the basement. And while the original building cost the county $1 million, the rebuild came in "under budget," Edwards said, at $10.5 million.
Health department staff have worked out of a temporary location for the last 18 months and moved into the new facility in late December. After at least a month in the new digs, Edwards said there has yet to be any complaints with the new space.Comment on this story
In addition to increasing space and expanding services, the new health center was constructed to be more safe in an earthquake, something the old building couldn't hold a candle to. The structural improvements, Edwards said, make it safer not only for staff, but also for the clients they serve.
The public is welcome to tour the new facility, but also visit with health care needs. A list of the center's services can be found online at slco.org/health.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated the Salt Lake County Health Department's new public health center cost $10 million. It actually cost $10.5 million.