Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crowded Health Agency Pursues Hospital Property

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crowded Health Agency Pursues Hospital Property

Article excerpt

ST. AUGUSTINE -- Boxes of baby formula and other supplies are

stacked in hallways at the St. Johns County Health Department.

Some employees share offices in shifts. A closet houses computer

equipment.

"Every cabinet is full, every place we can park something we

do," said James Walker, the department director. "I can't hire

anybody. I've got no place to put them."

The health department needs nearly double the space it now has

for its 80 employees and the 150 to 200 clients they serve

daily. It's hoping to find more room in a deal with the county's

only hospital.

Flagler Hospital, just south of the St. Augustine city limits,

has two buildings across from each other on U.S. 1. To

consolidate operations, Flagler is building new facilities on

its eastern campus and wants to sell its 110,000-square-foot west

campus facility for $5.5 million.

County officials want it and are negotiating a deal that would

move county health services from five buildings and 16,000

square feet to one facility across from the hospital.

Since the health department only needs 35,000 square feet,

Walker said the county could rent the remaining space to other

state agencies, physicians and others.

The switch from hospital to health department probably would

not be complete until early 2000 because Flagler is building

what will be an eight-story tower at its main campus and won't

begin moving patients until October.

Jim Conzemius, president of Flagler Hospital, said turning the

facility over to the county would fulfill two needs.

"We do not want to split our patient care facilities," he said.

And "we think that would be an excellent match, to have another

aspect of health care near the hospital."

Now, space problems at the health department mean the agency

doesn't even apply for some grant programs, like one last year

for more intensive breast cancer screening, said spokeswoman

Jean Carver. …

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