The Mitchell County Board of Supervisors met at the county services building Tuesday, Sept. 11, to discuss privacy and HIPPA compliance at the building.
Melissa Smith, county public health/home health director, said the space was "simply not set up for HIPPA compliance, privacy or work efficiency."
She said they have asked to switch sides, as they don't have private offices or a patient waiting area. The building is shared with the Mitchell County Food Bank, Department of Social Services, Crisis Intervention and One Vision.
"People are right at someone’s desk hearing confidential information," Smith said.
When someone enters the building, there is an empty desk and no directional signs, leading visitors to ask for help in the public health office.
County social services also needs to be HIPPA complaint as well, officer Megan Taets said.
“When the building was built in 2006, it was to be a one-stop shop for clients to come for services," she said.
With the proposal of swapping sides also came an option to relocate the food bank, but its east-side location is necessary for access for trucks bringing grocery deliveries.
"Instead of disrupting the building, we should put offices on the other side," District 1 Supervisor Joel Voaklander said, noting he met with food bank director Leo Chisholm on the matter.
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With the current waiting room being considered wasted space, the supervisors called in local contractor Kelvin Palsic to consult on the space. Palsic won't be able to work on it until January, but the supervisors want to have a plan in place.
Voaklander said he thought the empty desk could be replaced with a board directing people where to go.
Smith also said she was concerned office space wasn't being utilized to its fullest capabilities and suggested a sharing schedule. However, some agencies -- DHS and Crisis Intervention -- have less structured schedules and often use their offices between clients and court appearances.
“From a utilitarian standpoint, I don’t feel this is the best use of the space,” Smith said, as she asked for a space study.
Representatives from One Vision said they also needed more offices and would rent space if it was an option.
Voaklander said he thought it would be best to remodel quickly and with little disruption. It would begin in stages on the public health side, so it doesn't interrupt clients.
“There was talk when the building was originally designed that there could be an addition added on to the east, that might be something to look into," he said. "We can change the front entrance to use that space better.”
The supervisors decided to develop a plan that could be discussed by all departments, so everyone could determine the space division would work best for them. Cost has yet to be determined.