Ready to Settle Down in Mulberry
By Suzie Schottelkotte
More than a year after breaking ground on a health clinic in Mulberry, and nearly nine months after construction was expected to be completed, crews finally are preparing to set the building in place.
Land was cleared last week and the utility lines are in place, said Ann Claussen, executive director of Central Florida Health Care Inc.
"The plan is to bring the building in Friday," she said. "After waiting so long, we are all very excited.
"They told us once the foundation was in, and we cleared all the permits, the construction would go really quickly," Claussen added.
The $1.4 million modular building was built off-site and has been brought to Mulberry for final assembly.
Mulberry City Commissioner Andy Scrocca said he's excited to see the project come together.
"In the last couple years, we've been seeing a lot of pluses in Mulberry, and this is another plus," he said. "We are so happy this is happening."
Once the two-story building is positioned, it will take about six weeks to complete the interior, Claussen said.
"We're anticipating it will be the end of February before we're in the clinic," she said. "In the meantime, we'll still operate from the temporary clinic we have there now."
Clinicians working out of the temporary structure have been treating as many as 60 patients, adults and children, a week since March.
Central Florida Health Care risked losing a $775,000 federal grant for the project if it didn't meet a March 10 deadline last year to begin treating patients.
With help from Mulberry city officials, the agency slid in under the wire by erecting a temporary structure.
At that time, Claussen said she was hopeful the permanent, 10,000-square-foot building would be in place by early summer, but that didn't happen.
"We don't realize when a project is this big that there are all different pieces that tie in," she said. "There's the engineers, permitting, inspections, the contract, and things like the water-flow study test.
"If something isn't the way it needs to be, it slows the process down and those weeks start adding up," Claussen continued. "We would run into different scenarios and we'd have to step back. It's really nobody's fault."
The permanent building will be assembled behind the temporary one on a 1-acre lot donated by the city at Prairie Mine Road and State Road 60, on Mulberry's west side.
The clinic, like others in Central Florida Health Care's system, will provide medical services to residents who are not receiving adequate medical care, including those with low incomes, the elderly, migrant seasonal farm workers, homeless people and residents of public housing.
Federally qualified centers, like Central Florida Health Care, offer services to patients on a sliding scale based on their incomes.
The Avon Park-based program also provides medical services in Lakeland, Frostproof, Winter Haven, Lake Wales and Dundee in Polk County.
Claussen said more than 20 medical personnel have been hired for the Mulberry site, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and laboratory staff.
Most of them are working in other locations "until we get the Mulberry clinic open," she said.
[ Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-533-9070. ]
Crews have begun work for the placement of the new Mulberry Health Care Clinic on Ninth Avenue. The $1.4 million modular building was built off-site.