Gary hopes to replace the old Health Department building

Gary Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker said the current health department facility cannot adequately accommodate all of the services it provides.

John J Watkins, File, The Times

GARY — The Gary Health Department, located at 1145 W. Fifth Ave., has outgrown its current location.

Gary Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker said the building, which was once a church, could no longer be maintained through repairs alone, adding that workers and patients were “on top of each other.”

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Gary Common Council unanimously approved $5 million for a new health department facility. The money came from the $80.3 million American Rescue Plan Act provided to the city.

“This is probably going to be one of the few opportunities to get public health funded,” Walker said on Nov. 1 during a Ways and Means committee meeting. “Public health usually doesn’t get funded, so I’m extremely excited.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker said Gary saw how important it was to maintain local control of the city’s health department. Hammond abolished its municipal health department in the early 2000s, consolidating services with the Lake County Health Department.

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Common Council President William said, “I’m glad we kept our public health downtown because we know our population is vulnerable. We have a lot of pre-existing conditions, and we have to try to get a county facility.” I have transportation concerns.” Godwin, D-1st, said during the Nov. 1 meeting.

Godwin stated that the $5 million allocation would not cover the full cost of building a new facility; However once the design is ready, the health department will be able to estimate the total cost and seek additional funding. Several council members said they wanted the new facility to be located downtown.

Walker said the health department wanted “a building to serve the public with dignity and respect.”


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