Health & Medicine

Fayette County's Newtown Pike public health clinic will relocate; Southland clinic plans inch forward

This rendering shows the exterior of the HealthFirst Bluegrass clinic to be built on Southland Drive.
This rendering shows the exterior of the HealthFirst Bluegrass clinic to be built on Southland Drive. EOP Architects

The public health clinic that has served patients for decades at 650 Newtown Pike is moving, and an $11.7 million clinic planned for Southland Drive is inching closer to construction.

Where the Newtown Pike clinic will move and when the Southland clinic will open are still being negotiated, said Jack Cornett, chief financial officer for the Fayette County Health Department. The Newtown Pike clinic must move by December 2014, he said. The Southland clinic must be finished by September 2015.

"We have had quite a busy week," said Cornett, addressing the HealthFirst Bluegrass Board of Directors on Thursday. Both clinics will be operated by HealthFirst, but the health department owns the building at 650 Newtown Pike.

The health department wants to move offices now at 804 Newtown Circle, near the intersection of Newtown Pike and New Circle Road, to 650 Newtown Pike, near the intersection of West Loudon Avenue.

That means the HealthFirst clinic at 650 Newtown Pike, which serves about 16,000 people a year, needs to move. Cornett said that several locations are being considered on Lexington's north end, and that the clinic space will be on a LexTran bus route. Cornett said the final deal should save HealthFirst $100,000 a year on rent.

Cornett also provided an update on the Southland Drive project.

HealthFirst officials announced in February that construction would begin in May. Cornett said that date was pushed back because the construction management contract with Lexington-based Congelton-Hacker Company has been in limbo for more than year. He said it should be signed next week.

Subcontractor bids should quickly follow, he said.

"There is every reason to believe that by this time next year we will have Southland and points north covered," he said.

HealthFirst Bluegrass is a nonprofit, funded mostly by tax dollars. Since 2010, HealthFirst has been trying to spend an $11.7 million federal grant to build a new health clinic. The current effort stalled in January 2013. Since then, the project has been subject to an auditor's report; former HealthFirst Executive Director William North was forced to resign.

The details of project manager Ted Mims' contract remain under review by the Health Resources Services Administration, which oversees the construction grant.

In February, the roof of a building to be knocked down for the new clinic collapsed. No repairs have been made, and wooden supports have been added beneath the metal awning. Caution tape remains around the building, which sits across from Good Foods on Southland Drive.

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