Jefferson County Commissioners approved specifications for the refurbishment of the Jefferson County Health Clinic, 1295 Pearl St. in downtown Beaumont, at their meeting Monday, Jan. 28. Approximately $600,000 has been earmarked for renovations and repairs at the facility, according to Pct. 4 Commissioner Bo Alfred.
County engineer Don Rao said the improvements are necessary, adding that commissioners approved the plan at Monday’s meeting, but the bidding for the project has yet to begin.
Commissioner Alfred agreed that the clinic was in disrepair, saying his office had been working for four years for action. He said the county was able to get together enough money for the repairs and renovations needed at the clinic, just not enough to replace the facility.
“I was trying to buy a new building (for the clinic),” Alfred said. “We put that on hold. I couldn’t persuade the (commissioners) to go forward with that. You take lemons, and you make lemonade.”
Alfred said the clinic is vital to the health of the community. “There are a tremendous amount of people who use it. … We are trying to do (the project) in the most cost effective way possible … to provide citizens with the most bang for their buck.”
“At least 100 people per day use the clinic,” said registered nurse and clinic nursing supervisor Rachel Dragulski. “People are coming in throughout the day for treatment and medications.”
Dragulski said as someone who works at the facility, the refurbishment could not come soon enough. She cited small exam rooms, a leaking roof and windows, a small pharmacy area in which workers can barely get around one another, a barely functional wheelchair ramp and more as reasons she was looking forward to the project.
“When it rains, it really rains in here,” Dragulski said, pointing at the discolored ceiling tiles in the pharmacy area. “The pharmacy may be the worst; it is in really bad shape.”
Pharmacy technician Ann Winfred agreed. “Water filled up the light once,” she said motioning toward a now-uncovered light fixture. “We have to cover everything up with plastic or it would get on the computers.”
She said sometimes during the year, the pharmacy area gets hot. She said the temperature once reached 102 degrees inside the pharmacy.
Dragulski said she feels strongly that the patients who visit the clinic should be treated with respect and adequate medical service.
“Just because they are indigent does not mean they should have to go to a place that needs so many repairs like this,” Dragulski asserted. “These patients should have a nice place to go (for medical care). That’s really important to us here.”
Rao said he expects bidding for the project to open March 4. He estimated the project would take four to six months to complete.