Health department eyeing move into neighboring offices

With the addition of COVID-19 responsibilities, the Bartholomew County Health Department’s nursing division has outgrown its Fox Pointe Drive offices and is looking to grow into a neighboring set of offices.

And county officials want to get the local government out of being in the landlord business.

The county acquired the existing offices in 2016 and the nursing division shares the office building with two other tenants. Although the building is about 4,900 square feet, the county rents out about 2,000 square feet of space to other tenants. County Auditor Pia O’Connor said that with the added duties due to the pandemic, including testing, tracking and immunizing, the health officials no longer have enough room. The neighboring building the county is eyeing would have more than 5,000 square feet of space and the building would be entirely occupied by the county health department.

Commissioners President Larry Kleinhenz said the hope would be to do some sort of property trade for the new building, but it could also be a case where the county sells the existing property and buys the new property outright.

Both Kleinhenz and Commissioner Tony London said they would like to see the county no longer compete against private landlords by owning and renting out medical office space.

O’Connor said that she believes the county could uses its share of the federal CARES act funding to make the purchase of the new building. County officials stressed that the proposal is just in the beginning stages.

The commissioners approved contracts at their meeting Monday for about $12,500 dollars to get the old and the new buildings appraised by two appraisers.