Kent’s Health Department is on the move, figuratively and literally.
Last May, the Kent Health Department made a move up the KSU Schwartz Center. This May it looks like they’ll be making a move to the Cutler building on Main Street (also owned by KSU).
I hate to disrupt the routines of the 6 Health Department employees but both moves had sound reasons and when Kent State asked if there was any chance if the Health Department staff would be willing to relocate from the Schwartz Center (to make room for more academic programs) to the Cutler building — it made too much sense to say no.
Although the timing was a bit of a surprise, I think it’s turning out to be a blessing as the Schwartz Center was admittedly the least convenient of the relocated city service locations — and to be honest it got a whole lot worse now that Summit Street is being reconstructed and traffic detours will be a daily frustration in that area for the next 2 years.
The Schwartz Center had plenty of space for the Health Department, it offered the chance for KSU interns to get hands on experience in public health, and it gave the City and KSU a chance to see how a joint public health service could work.
For those reasons, it was time well spent as we learned some things that we should be able to use as we look to plan for the future of the health department.
I think in the end the new location that KSU is offering if far better. KSU is getting ready to tear down a couple of the buildings that they purchased on SR 59 (copy store, outfitter store) but rather than remove the Cutler Real Estate building they’ve offered it to the City as a new home for the Kent Health Department.
The Cutler building has about twice the space Jeff needs, it’s a fully functional office, in good condition, and it comes equipped with plenty of office furniture. It’s truly “move in” ready and best of all it has ample parking and is easily accessible and visible — which is where the Schwartz Center came up short.
Since a big part of the move is to improve accessibility to the health department, I wanted to provide some perspective on who the health department customers are and where they come from.
We checked the health department office records for the last 2 years and it turns out that most of the health department customers — approximately 75% — come to the office to file birth and death certificates.
Keep in mind, the Kent Health department handles vital statistics countywide so births and deaths anywhere in the county have to be filed with the Kent health department.
Over the last 2 years, in an “average” day 20 customers visit the Kent health department. Of those, about 2 are Kent residents, 10 are Portage County residents and 8 come in from outside the County.
Since nearly 90% of the customers come from outside of Kent and are not as familiar with Kent, it certainly makes sense to make the building as easy to find and access as possible.
I think the proposed Cutler building on Main Street should go a long way at helping all of the customers find the office, get in, and get out.
The City’s Health Commissioner has been meeting with KSU to lay out the plans for the relocation and he made it sound like they’d like to make the change sometime in May so they’re be busy figuring out phone line transfer, email transfer, and the other nuts and bolts of moving a city office.
At least they’ve got some experience with it.