A newly appointed state agency director was in Jacksonville on Thursday to tour a new health care facility. The Morgan County Health Department invited the public to explore its new facility during an open house yesterday evening.
An estimated two to three hundred people toured the facility during the two-hour event, which included local community leaders like Mayor Andy Ezard, Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll, and State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer.
Also attending the open house was the recently appointed Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Sameer Vohra, who says he made the trip to Jacksonville to not only tour the building but help recognize the Morgan County Health Department’s 100 years of service to the community.
“Part of my hope as the director is to really understand the communities we serve, and part of that is really talking to folks like Administrator Dale [Bainter] and all the great work he’s doing in Morgan County to really feel like how the state can be responsive to those needs and to be effective overall. Plus I’m here to celebrate and what a great event and great party to celebrate the 100th anniversary.”
Administrator of the Morgan County Health Department Dale Bainter says it was the first official health department in the state, opening its doors to the community on July 3rd, 1922.
He says the continued support his department has seen during his nine years at the helm was magnified by the turnout yesterday.
“We feel very fortunate with all the support we’ve received from the community and our elected officials. Seeing the mayor here on Republican Day and still being here instead of the State Fair, really means a lot to us to see the support we’ve got from the community and all of our officials. It’s amazing.”
The Morgan County Health Department was also the first in the state to partner with the SIU Center for Family Medicine which has its own wing in the new building. Director Vohra says the community support seen in Morgan County for the local health department sets it apart from others in the state.
“For most rural communities, to see this kind of community buy-in around public health and to have such a beautiful facility like this I think is an incredible testament to the importance of these issues all across Morgan County.”
Bainter says it’s that support that kept his staff going through the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and now being able to share the new facility with the community is very special. “It’s been wonderful. You know, the space is just magnificent. We’ve got so many clients that have commented on it, and those are the compliments we take to heart the most. When you’ve got a client who tells you how it impacts them, that really resonates.”
Services began at the new facility on June 1st, at the corner of South Clay and East State Streets. The 20,000-square-foot facility was previously home to the Putnam-Springer Building on the former MacMurray campus, and more than triples the space the health department previously occupied on West State Street.
During the event, State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer presented Bainter with a certificate from the Illinois House of Representatives, recognizing the Morgan County Health Department for its full century of service in Morgan County.