New Downtown Day Center ready for opening

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jan 6, 2018 at 11:34 PM

Johnson City Downtown Day Center’s new $1 million facility is complete and ready to open on Jan. 16.

Behind the current Day Center at 202 W. Fairview Ave., the new 4,300-square-foot facility has been under construction since February and underwent its final inspections last week.

Made possible by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and land donated by Mountain States Health Alliance, the new facility will replace the aging 2,200-square-foot building where the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing has been serving the homeless since 2005.

In addition to the additional space and new amenities the new facility will provide for the center’s homeless clients, Center Director Jennifer Whitehead said she is excited about the full-service health care service the facility will provide for those clients and for the community at large.

Like the original Downtown Clinic, from which the Day Center evolved, and like the Johnson City Community Health Center on State of Franklin Road that that replaced Downtown Clinic, Whitehead said the new center will provide primary health care to anyone who needs it.

“It’s not just for people who are homeless. And it’s not just for people who don’t have insurance. It’s for everybody,” she said.

The clinic’s amenities will include:

• A full-time health care provider and many student providers available five days a week.

• A full-service lab where blood checks and urinalysis can be conducted on site.

• Three medical exam rooms and one mental health care room.

• A therapy room for therapeutic groups meetings and life skills classes.

• A nurses’ station.

• A separate waiting room for clinic patients.

New amenities in the day center will include:

• A larger and brighter day room with plenty of natural lighting and two computer stations where clients may set up email accounts, file job applications and learn critical computing skills

• Three handicap-accessible showers, four washer and dryer hookups and enough water pressure to allow hygiene and laundry services to provided at the same time without all-day waits for showers and clean clothing.

• A spacious clothes closet where donated items will be kept on hand for those in need.

• A social service office for more private case work consultations

• A small kitchen with oven and stovetop hookups that will allow the center’s staff and clients to heat more than microwave snacks and drinks.

According to Whitehead, many of the new center’s amenities were included on the recommendation of the clients who had a hand in its design. “We created a committee of 10 people and we asked them to tell us what they would like to have. They wanted more showers and the laundry,” she said.

“I am glad they will have that. They deserve it. This will be theirs. And I can’t wait for them to see it.”

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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