ROCK FALLS – The offices are full to burstin' at the Whiteside County Health Department's community health clinic.
So Beth Fiorini, the health department administrator, is on the hunt for money to expand. About $900,000, in fact.
Thanks to the closure of the former sewer plant, the site at 1300 W. Second St. already has the land, and the parking space. All it needs is a new building, Fiorini said Tuesday.
She plans to apply in July for a grant from Illinois Department of Public Health, designed specifically for community health care centers, and for a Community Development Block Grant.
The very preliminary plan calls for a basic office building of about 5,000 square feet between the clinic and the back parking lot, where the plant used to be. She wants to put behavioral health and billing and coding in the new space.
Because of the city's utility easement, the buildings probably can't be connected, but that doesn't really matter, Fiorini said.
Right now, six or seven people are stepping all over themselves in billing, and in other offices as well. And the one therapist on staff doesn't even have an office, Fiorini said, adding that she hopes to hire a second one, who also will need a spot.
If the IDPH turns her down, she'll probably apply for federal funds next year, Fiorini said. By that time, an architect who's now in the process will have drawn up plans, which the feds always like to see, she said.
The need isn't likely to go away.
Like most other health care facilities, Whiteside County expects to see some sort of bump in business because of the Affordable Care Act. Just how much, Fiorini isn't sure.
The health department helped about 1,600 people enroll in an insurance plan, most of whom became eligible for Medicare. It remains to be seen how many of those were patients who were paying their own bills, and how many might be new to the clinic, she said.