"Let's build a building!" were the celebratory words of HealthFirst executive director Dr. Steve Davis as he grabbed a shovel and turned a mound of ceremonial dirt on Monday.
After four years of controversy, audits, board of director stand-offs and too-many-to-count emergency meetings, ground was broken at 496 Southland Drive to make way for a $11.7 million federally funded public health clinic.
At the ceremony, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said the clinic, to open in fall 2015, will provided much-needed health care to Lexingtonians and is an important example of redevelopment.
The buildings previously on the site were in disrepair and had been empty for years.
"This has been a long time coming," Gray said to those standing in the gravel- and dirt-filled lot.
The clinic will offer primary care to the underserved, said Eric Herrin, chairman of the HealthFirst board.
The clinic is a part of a health care safety net that stretches across the country and serves 23 million people, he said. That includes the poor and people with no insurance. He said the clinic also will provide medical and dental services to everyone in the community.
HealthFirst Bluegrass is a nonprofit funded primarily by tax dollars. It also operates a health clinic at 650 Newtown Pike.