A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKY Health Department celebrates move with ribbon-cutting at new district office in Florence

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Florence Mayor Diane Whalen and other community stakeholders welcomed the Northern Kentucky Health Department into the city, with a ribbon-cutting at its new offices on the Government Campus at 8001 Veterans Memorial Drive.

Left to right, Florence Mayor Diane Whalen, Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore, Dr. Connie White, senior deputy commissioner with the Kentucky Department of Public Health and NKY Chamber President Brent Cooper were among those on hand for Wednesday’s ribbon cutting (photos by Mark Hansel).

Whalen said the new facility is another step in helping realize the vision of a campus that provides a wide range of government services and programs to the people of the region.

“It is a great big collaborative that makes all of these things come together,” Whalen said. “It’s a beautiful building, it blends perfectly into the campus.”

The 40,000-plus square foot building, which officially opened late last month allows the Health Department to consolidate operations into one central location.

Ninety-two employees from offices in Edgewood, Fort Mitchell, Covington and Florence will be based out of the new building. Program areas to be located at the new facility include:

  • Office of the District Director of Health, including Human Resources, Health Planning and Public Information
  • Administration and Accounting
  • Clinical Administration
  • WIC and Nutrition Administration
  • Health Promotion
  • Oral Health
  • HIV/AIDS Case Management
  • Epidemiology
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Environmental Health

Dr. Lynne Saddler, district director of health, said the building itself was constructed in less than a year, but the planning took much longer.

Dr. Lynne Saddler, Northern Kentucky district director of health, said the opening of the new office represents the culmination of a long collaborative effort by many community stakeholders.

“It seems like so many of us were here just a short time ago…for the actual groundbreaking, so a lot has happened in the eight months since we started this effort,” Saddler said. “Planning for this project began back in 2014, believe it or not, and what you see here today is obviously the result of many, many, many hours of work, by so many individuals.”

There was competition for the project and the Health Department had to weigh its options carefully when making the long-term decision on where to locate.

Independence Mayor Chris Reinersman made a strong pitch for the offices to be located in that city, but ultimately factor such as the central location and proximity to the interstate, led Florence to be chosen.

“When the health department was looking for a location for their new office, we were very happy to throw our name in that hat and ask them to take a look at this piece of property,” Whalen said. “We did work very well together and we appreciate the fact that they did a lot of due diligence, a lot of soul-searching, a lot of research, just to determine where the best location for them was.”

The two-story facility includes offices, meeting rooms and training space and was constructed by Paul Hemmer Company at a cost of approximately $6.1 million. Funding for the project came from the Health Department’s cash reserves and the sale of existing buildings, and there is no debt service on the building.

Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties comprise the service area for the Northern Kentucky Health Department and all were represented at Wednesday’s event.

Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore said the more than 400,000 people that make up the district will be well-served by the new facility.

The crowd stands for the Pledge of Allegiance as the Florence Police Color Guard delivers the flags at Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony.

“As we all work to build healthy counties, healthy communities and healthy cities, having the resources of a first-class public health department is essential,” Moore said. “Having a facility like this, where the proper administration, planning and education can take place to lead this organization, and all of the independent clinics that are out there in our various counties, is essential.”

Dr. Connie White, senior deputy commissioner with the Kentucky Department of Public Health, said the Northern Kentucky Health Department sets an example for the state, and the nation, to follow.

“They were one of the first nine groups in the United States to be accredited,” White said. “As other counties are still thinking about this, as the state is still thinking about this and working on accreditation, they are working on their five-year renewal.”

The designation by the National Health Accreditation Board means the Department meets national standards for high quality public health services, leadership and accountability.

“This is a very awesome group of people,” White said. “At the state, if something needs to be done and we don’t know who to ask to pilot it, we know we can come to Northern Kentucky. There is no coaching, there is nothing that we need to do, they are on the ground, they are running and they are ready.”

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President Brent Cooper said the Health Department’s goals of preventing disease, promoting wellness and protecting against health threats play a key role in ensuring a stable workforce in the region.

“Workforce is the number one issue at the Chamber these days,” Cooper said. “On behalf of the Northern Kentucky business community, we say thank you for your service every day and a sincere congratulations on everything you are doing, going forward.”

The Health Department’s county health centers, located in Florence, Newport, Williamstown and Covington, will not move. The department will no longer have any operations based at Medical Village Drive in Edgewood, or at Grandview Drive in Fort Mitchell. Those properties have been sold.

For more information about the Northern Kentucky Health Department and its programs and services, click here.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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