COPENHAGEN — With renovations to the Copenhagen Health Center completed and only two more bureaucratic hoops to jump through, a tentative opening date for the center has been set for May.
“The state, and the rural health center people, is kind of dragging its feet on getting our sign-offs and surveys, but we’re hoping that sometime in early to mid-May will probably be the first we’ll be able to see patients there,” said Clinic Medical Director Dr. Sean Harney during his presentation to the Lewis County Health System Board of Managers on Thursday.
Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald R. Cayer further clarified one final inspection as part of the state Certificate of Need process that governs these kinds of projects for medical facilities and a review to lock-in Rural Health Center designation for the clinic are still outstanding.
“We’re still working through that,” Mr. Cayer said about the certificate process. “I don’t anticipate any challenges there.”
He does anticipate that the clinic will begin taking patients in early May with “some kind of grand opening event on May 17.”
Facilities Director Frank Pace gave the board a “virtual tour” of the transformed modular building erected in the 1960s, showing the new fixtures, beige and blue walls, new flooring throughout and describing how the space will be used.
The building now includes three exam rooms, a small laboratory, a doctor’s office, the nurses’ office, a break room, a larger waiting room, new sliding windows for the reception area, a new vestibule and an enlarged and improved handicap-accessible bathroom.
As a whole, Mr. Pace said the building and the walkway leading up to it now meet Adults with Disability Act requirements.
Construction on the $355,000 project was completed on budget, Mr. Pace said, despite the significant increases in building material costs.
He credits early ordering and planning for avoiding the pandemic-created price escalations.
In 2019, before the renovations began, Mr. Cayer said the goal is to have the health center staffed four days a week by a family nurse practitioner.
“Initially, we will likely staff two days per week, growing to three days per week and then achieving four days,” the CEO said.
The practitioner to make that possible has already been selected.
Julie L. Emery, FNP, received her Master of Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner degree from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., in May 2018, after working more than five years as a registered nurse.
“I think she’s going to be a great addition and engage well with the community. She grew up in the Beaver River School District and went to church up in Carthage so I think she’ll fit nicely into the Copenhagen sector of the county,” Dr. Harney said.
Acknowledging that it may take time to get the community to use services at the clinic again, Mr. Cayer said the Health System will “put a lot of effort into introducing her to the community.”
The Copenhagen Health Center was closed in May 2019 when the state Department of Health notified the hospital that the clinic had not been properly licensed since 2006.