In planning and conversations leading up to building the Community Health Facility in 1999, leaders in Lawrence and Douglas County focused on a central location for three community health agencies to better coordinate care and public service.
On the 20th anniversary of the building’s opening, members of the public are invited to see how that initial investment still serves the community’s health needs in various ways. The original occupants – Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association – remain the staples in the building.
An open house to celebrate the anniversary and thank the public for its investment in community health will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, on the second floor of the Community Health Facility, 200 Maine St.
After a ground-breaking ceremony on Oct. 11, 1997, to begin building the $14.1-million-dollar facility — funded by a voter-approved 1994 sales tax question — and its opening in 1999, at least 780,000 people have been directly served by this facility.
“All three agencies are totally out of space and cramped. We will have a much greater ability to provide the services we need to,” Kay Kent, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department director from 1973 to 2006, told the Lawrence Journal-World in 1997.
In 1999, the VNA moved into the facility on Aug. 25, and Bert Nash opened its doors on Aug. 26. The Health Department completed the current trio and moved in on Sept. 24, 1999. A dedication ceremony for the building occurred on Nov. 13, 1999.
Following a brief ceremony hosted by the building’s three occupants, the City of Lawrence and Douglas County Government on Aug. 8, members of public are encouraged to take guided tours of the facility.