The Clay County Public Health office is moving today. Their new location will be at 1214 E. National Ave. Suite B110.
There are actually three different branches to the Public Health Department. Nursing is lead by Registered Nurse Jennifer Lucas. William Hale is the environmental health specialist. Joyce Vinson is the registrar of Vital Records for Clay County. Bell Killion's title is Nursing Secretary but she provides assistance in all departments.
The move has been a long time coming. Health Officer Dr. Rahim Farid requested permission from the County Commissioners to move to a different area in the court house in 1996. He said their location on the second floor was unsafe for children because of access to the Rotunda. However, there was no available space for them to move.
Former Auditor Robert Hostetler had a vision while he was in public office wanting to place all the health programs at a central location.
Several years ago the St. Vincent group bought Clay County Hospital, which was on county land. In exchange for the land, St. Vincent agreed to provide space on the grounds for a health department for a limited, contracted amount of time.
The Health Department has had many changes since its inception. Dr. Robert Webster was the original County Health Officer. However, after the state reorganized the department, Dr. Opal Wood was appointed as full time Clay County Health Officer Jan. 1, 1965. He resigned in 1974 due to health reasons.
Current Health Officer Dr. Rahim Farid was appointed to fill Dr. woods expiring term and has held the position for the past 28 years.
Clay County's first Public Health Nurse was Mrs. Janice Rumbley. She was hired in 1975 and held the job for about a year and a half. During her tenure she began organizing the Clay County Childhood Immunization Clinics. That program is still being offered today.
Nan Engle was the Public Health Nurse for 16 years, resigning in 1993. She contributed to the County's welfare by obtaining grants for the Well Child Clinic, the Women, Infant and Children program and the Older Adult Clinics. Jennifer Lucas will have been the County Health Nurse for six years in April.
Charles Allen was the first part-time sanitarian 1965-1973. George Needham was appointed in 1976 and held the position for 12 years. He was instrumental in initiating the guidelines for the Well and Septic Ordinances. Current Environmental Health Specialist Bill Hale has held the position for the past 13 years.
"This is a positive move," Jennifer Lucas said about the relocation. "Dr. Farid is a true advocate of public health. He supports programs for the benefit of Clay County residents. Our new facilities will allow us to function more efficiently and we'll have opportunities for new programs to develop."
Bell Killion had mixed emotions about the move. "We're excited," she said, "but torn. We hate to leave our friends here at the court house."
Joyce Vinson agreed. "I've worked here 14 years. I got a little teary eyed thinking about the move," she said. "There's a real camaraderie here at the court house and I'm going to miss that."