Health Building Expanding to Meet Demand

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   MEDFORD, Ore. — Scattered across nine buildings along East Main Street in Medford, the Jackson County Department of Health and Human Services will soon be under one roof.

“Just for efficiency, for better use for our staff, better use of their time so they’re not running around so on and so forth, and for our clients, for better care for our clients. It made all the sense in the world,” said Jackson County Commissioner Don Skundrick.

The ground was broken last year and planning for the new building has been in the works for a few years. Despite all the calculations, the number of residents eligible for the Oregon Health Plan as a result of the Affordable Care Act has sky rocketed past expectations.

“We’re finding out that we’re going to have a great possibility of having a lot more additional clients than we anticipated,” said Commissioner Skundrick.

When ground was broken last June, there were just under 35,000 people eligible for O.H.P. As of March, there were 57,000. More space was needed, and without adding additional floors or expanding beyond, builders will adjust and make the most of a previously open space.

“They made a pitch to go ahead and take that additional square footage and make it functional,” said Commissioner Skundrick.

Commissioner Skundrick said with more potential clients comes the need for additional parking and now the adjacent parking deck will now be six stories instead of four.

Skundrick said these project won’t cost tax payers an additional money and will be paid for through reserve funds.

“That building, as well as some of the other capital buildings the county has done over the past few years, hasn’t cost our tax payers here an additional dollar, penny or nickel,” said Commissioner Skundrick.

The additions to the building and parking deck are not expected to push back the completion date. Officials said construction should wrap up around late August and the building should open sometime in November.