December 22, 2022 – Knox Public Health has announced the purchase of property in downtown Mount Vernon for development of a new combined location for the Knox County Community Health Center and the health department. The purchased property encompasses both the north and south sides of the 200 block of West Vine Street. It is the former location of Strang Glass and several public and private parking lots.
Acquisition of the property was recently approved by the Knox County Board of Health and the Health Center’s Co-Applicant Board, and finalized this week with the seller. Program income from the Health Center is the funding source used to purchase the property, not local tax dollars as those funds are appropriated for operational expenses and cannot be used for property acquisition.
The property purchase caps a much-publicized 4-year search for new space. “The downtown area has always been the desired destination for a new location,” said Health Commissioner Zach Green. “A downtown location offers better access for our health center patients and a centralized site for public health services.”
After many years of sharing space with other agencies, the health department moved into its current location at 11660 Upper Gilchrist Rd in May of 2001. In December of 2016, the agency announced it had been awarded a grant to open a Federally Qualified Health Center. The Knox County Community Health Center opened for business inside the health department in April 2017 offering dental and medical services. In 2019, the health center opened offices in Danville offering medical and dental services.
Since then, the health center has expanded its services to include mental health counseling at all locations with added staff in medical, dental and counseling to accommodate the growing demand for services. A year ago, Moore Family Practice and the Walk-In Clinic became part of the Health Center. In addition to an increase in services and locations, the number of patients served has nearly quadrupled with over 9,000 patients served this year.
“Ideally, we need a facility where all sites in the Mount Vernon area can be centrally located,” said Green. “That includes services and staff from the Upper Gilchrist Rd. location, the Women Infant & Children (WIC) division located on Coshocton Avenue, and Moore Family Practice.” Combining all of the services and staff under one roof is more cost efficient, enhances availability of resources, and promotes access for all.”
Plans for the new facility will not affect the health center services in Danville.
“It’s also important to include public health services within the new facility since KPH works hand-in-hand with the Health Center to address health inequities,” explained Green. Health center patients benefit from public health programs like tobacco cessation, Children with Medical Handicaps (CMH) program, infectious disease investigation, adult and child immunizations, Maternal Child and Health (MCH), senior wellness resources, access to birth and death records and environmental health education. “There’s no reason to travel to another location to access these services when visiting the Health Center,” added Green.
After 21 years at the Upper Gilchrist location, the building has served its purpose, said Green. “But with the expansion of services and programming, we are definitely out of room with multiple staff in every space available. To be financially efficient and productive to meet the needs of the community, we need to move everyone together, in a new centralized location.”