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Marshall County Commission Green-Lights $10 Million Health Department Building

photo by: Rendering courtesy of Marshall County Health Department

This rendering from Silling Architects shows the new-look Marshall County Health Department.

The Marshall County Health Department will undergo a major update over the next two years, as architects now work to design the nearly $10 million building that will house the county’s health offices.

The Marshall County Commission voted to move ahead with designing the new health department building at Tuesday morning’s meeting. According to the presentation by Charleston-based Silling Architects, the total project cost of the building, including project contingencies and furniture, came to $9,951,096. Design development will take seven weeks, bidding is expected to be done by January, and construction is hoped to be complete by June 2024.

The new building will occupy the spot currently held by the health department, the nearby building which once housed the Moundsville Journal, and part of the parking lot near the Marshall County Magistrate Court. Magistrate’s parking will move across the street.

County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel said the aging building, built in 1955, was no longer meeting the needs of the health department. The new building will include significantly more space, allowing for expanded storage space, more exam rooms, and greater privacy. Additionally, Frohnapfel said, the building will have a more discrete entrance, promoting a sense of privacy when entering a medical office.

“The priorities are the medical exam rooms, the rooms for housing their medical equipment, testing supplies and samples,the sanitarian’s office, the number of exam rooms,” Frohnapfel said. “The build was built around 1955, and it hasn’t had a major upgrade since then. We still have 24-inch doorways going into bathrooms. We still have a lobby that holds 10 people uncomfortably for a facility that does 10 times what they originally did.”

Frohnapfel said the county has around $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding earmarked for the project, which has been in the works for years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced it onto the backburner.

“If a positive can come out of COVID … one of them was that it caused us to take a step back and reevaluate what we needed, and a lot of that was taken into consideration here,” she said.

Among these considerations were a larger community room, where testing, educational programs or training, or community events could be held. A room with double doors facing Court Avenue, too, could serve the department well if drive-up testing became necessary once again.

“Our volunteers were phenomenal – they stood out there in 80 degree days, minus-20 degree days, wind, hail, rain, sleet and snow,” she said. “… We had a pop-up tent that blew away when the wind blew too hard. Those double doors would have ease-of-access, if we ever had to get to that point again for something.”

Misty Merinar, nursing director with the health department, said staff members were very excited for the expansion to match the scope of what their office does.

“We’re outgrowing this building because we’re offering more programs and stuff to the community,” Merinar said. “We’re excited. We can’t wait.”

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