Family Health Centers officials say a new training center will offer opportunities for employee training, staff development, telemedicine and healthy meal preparation.
"Having a training facility that will afford our staff the ability to improve their knowledge and education in terms of the health care business is one of our visions," FHC board member Rogers Ideozu said.
Community, government and health officials gathered Tuesday afternoon at FHC's main Orangeburg site on Magnolia Street to break ground on the 12,184-square-foot training center.
It is a vision that FHC Chief Executive Officer Leon Brunson Sr. has had for more than a year.
"I'm happy and very proud. All I want to see is that it be built and the first training class go through. That would make me feel that I achieved something special," Brunson said.
"No other federally qualified health center has visualized the necessity for training for its staff, and it will be continuous in order to keep the staff up to date in their area," he said.
Brunson said the center is slated to be complete in nine months and "by June 30, we'll be in this building."
Mcdonald Law Architects of Aiken is the architect for the project, with AOS Specialty Contractors of Lexington serving as the contractor.
The training facility will include a 250-seat multipurpose room that can be divided into four training rooms, staff offices and a fully-equipped kitchen for a dietician to prepare healthy meals.
"We need a place to train our employees. … We (also) have a distance learning component," Brunson said.
The facility will be used for new employee training and for annual refresher training for the existing workforce to keep them up-to-date with technological advances. The total investment for the new training facility is estimated at more than $1 million.
"It will house telemedicine, which will be connecting us to all the school districts in our service area. We're starting this year with Denmark-Olar and Calhoun County (school districts). Next year we will bring in Orangeburg County schools' telemedicine program," Brunson said.
"A healthy child shall learn, shall be a productive citizen. That's one of our goals at the Family Health Center," Brunson said.
FHC Board Member James Arrington touted FHC's long history in providing health care.
He recalled how Family Health Centers Inc. began as the Orangeburg County Consumer Health Council, which was founded in September 1969 and was chartered in January 1970.
Family Health Centers now has its main Orangeburg site on Magnolia Street in Orangeburg, along with six satellite sites in Denmark, Vance, Holly Hill, Norway, St. Matthews and St. George.
"We are gathered here today to carry on something that started many years ago," Arrington said.
FHC Chief Finance Officer Shasonda Amous said, "The training center will house our finance department, which includes accounting, billing and purchasing, our scheduling department and telehealth services.
"The construction of this new facility here at Family Health Centers demonstrates dedication to its staff as it will also bring new training opportunities."
Amous said the construction of the center not only shows the FHC's dedication to its staff, "but it shows the remarkable leadership and vision that our CEO has for Family Health Centers."
Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said, "Family Health Centers has served so many of our people in this city. They have provided the best service that I know," particularly to the uninsured and underinsured population.
"They're able to come in and get the best care. We do appreciate that," Butler said.
Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright said it takes a team effort to improve the quality of life for county citizens, with FHC playing an integral role in that.
Of the training center, he said, "I'm sure that it will be a tremendous asset to the county and its citizens to have this center open."
Orangeburg County Councilman Willie B. Owens said, "I know the importance of the Family Health Center." The new training center "will be more than adequate to serve Orangeburg