Rural Health breaks ground on new facility

Published 8:36 pm Friday, January 26, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Staff members, government officials, contractors and interested residents gathered outside 101 Park Place to witness the groundbreaking of the new medical facility made possible by the Rural Health Medical Program.

The new facility will house the Dallas County Health Center and Central Office, expanding the health services available to residents.

According to Shereka Jones of RHMP, the new facility will provide five different services to Dallas County and the surrounding areas. These services are optometry, OBGYN, dental, mental health and health checkups.

“This medical facility will be the only one in Selma that provides five different services,” CEO Keshee Smith said. “This will benefit not only Dallas County, but the other four counties of Wilcox, Monroe, Perry and Marengo that we work with as well.”

The $1.2 million in funds to purchase and renovate the facility were acquired due to a combined effort with RHMP staff members, board members, city officials and Brown Studio Architecture.

Present at the groundbreaking ceremony was U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell. Sewell is constantly advocating for quality health care available in rural Alabama. Sewell, who is a native of Selma, was pleased to see a step in the right direction towards providing adequate health services to the community.

According to Sewell, rural Alabama is put at a disadvantage with health care compared to more urban areas across the nation, such as New York. She believes the needs of the rural community are overlooked.

“It is heartbreaking that people do not have access to healthcare regardless of where they live,” Sewell said. “Without expansion of Medicare, we have to plug and fill voids to make it work. We should not be penalized for doing more with less.”

Wilbur and Sommerville Hill attended the event representing Brown Studio Architecture, providing the layouts of their construction plans for the pubic to study. Guests were welcome to tour the new facility once the groundbreaking ceremony was complete.

According to the graphics of the building layout, there will be a health center and central office, a wellness and training center and a community garden. The construction was divided into three phases.

Phase one covered the health center and central office. Phase two covered the wellness and training center, and phase three covered the community garden.

Many branches of the building required upgrading to adequately accommodate the services the center will offer.

The ceremony closed with contributing individuals putting on hard hats, picking up shovels and digging into the dirt in front of the new facility. This included Mayor Darrio Melton, Smith, Rep. Sewell, RHMP board member John Gragg and others.

“This was no easy job,” Gragg said. “A lot of hard work went into this.”

The opening date of the new medical center is not known yet.