Fayette County Board of Health approves autonomy for Primary Care Center

mmeehan@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2011 

After years of wrangling, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the Primary Care Center will officially operate separately.

An agreement approved Monday by the Board of Health creates an independent non-profit to operate the Primary Care Center. The move has been debated since at least 2006, and health officials described the final negotiations between the Primary Care Board Governing Council and the health department as contentious.

The Board of Health will continue to approve the budget of the Primary Care Center, but Executive Director William North and his staff will have more control over day-to-day operations.

The change should be seamless to patients, board attorney Phil Scott said, but he said North and the governing council "will have a lot more responsibility."

The vote is important because the separation was mandated by the federal agency overseeing an $11.7 million grant aimed at moving the health clinic into a new, expanded space. If the agreement were not approved, the grant could have been in jeopardy.

Mayor Jim Gray, a Board of Health member, praised both sides for reaching agreement and said it signifies that expansion of the Primary Care Center can move forward.

The care center serves 17,000 people a year and has an annual budget of more than $10 million.

Reach Mary Meehan at (859) 231-3261 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3261.

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