By Donna Thornton/News Editor
By the time the 2014-2015 school year begins, a new, more efficient school-based health center should be completed between Litchfield Middle School and Adams Elementary School in East Gadsden.
Quality of Life Health Services broke ground on the project on Feb. 24, but as the speeches were being made and the golden shovels were taking their ceremonial digs at the earth, equipment growled in the background, carving out the footing for the new building.
Quality of Life Health Services Chief Executive Officer Wayne Rowe said the new center will allow the center to upgrade facilities and serve more students, as well as their families and school staffs. The clinic will be staffed for health care, dental and mental health care.
“School-based health centers enable children with acute or chronic illnesses to attend school and improve the overall health and wellness of all children through health screenings, health promotion and disease prevention activities.”
The center will provide a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, case management, dental health, health education and health promotion activities.
Rowe said the center should help with early detection of health problems and eliminate the transportation challenges some face when they need health care.
“This will bring improved efficiency and improved service,” Rowe said.
A number of elected officials were present and received thanks for their contribution toward making the center a reality, including Congressman Robert Aderholt, Alabama House Minority Leader Craig Ford and City of Gadsden Mayor Sherman Guyton.
Some funding for the project came from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Guyton said Rowe had asked if the city could contribute in-kind site preparation service. Instead, he said, the city contributed $50,000 to pay for that work.
Ford donated $7,500 toward the project. At the ground-breaking, Ford said the East Gadsden area were the Ford family’s old “stomping grounds.”
“To see economic development in this area means a lot to me,” Ford said.
All those who spoke during the groundbreaking praised the partnerships that made the project possible.
The center should be complete by mid-August.