Millions more for north Fulton health center

Credit: Jim Gaines

Credit: Jim Gaines

Fulton County took another half-step this week toward completing a “one-stop shop” for multiple health and related services.

County commissioners gave preliminary approval to seek a loan of nearly $11 million, plus interest, from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. That will be enough to finish renovating and equipping the building at 4700 North Point Parkway in Alpharetta.

The ACCG has offered financing for the project before; the new loan will bring the total to $25 million plus interest. There will be a public hearing before commissioners vote on final approval for the request Oct. 18.

The new center is expected to open by the end of next year. Commission Chair Robb Pitts urged stronger efforts toward a matching center in the county’s south end, currently slated to open in 2025 or 2026.

The center in Alpharetta will consolidate several county health offices, offering “wraparound services” from multiple agencies, including behavioral health, public health and DUI court, according to Pamela Roshell, county chief operating officer for Health, Human Services & Public Works. Most services will come from county programs, but some partner agencies offering related services will be represented too, according to Pamela Roshell, county chief operating officer for Health, Human Services & Public Works.

Commissioner Dana Barrett, noting that commissioners recently left the property tax rate unchanged this year, asked how much the county could do toward finishing the center without the new loan.

Roshell said they would be able to consolidate several offices and services as planned in the new building, but without more money they could not expand senior services. Some of the consolidated services also might have to be scaled back, she said.

Barrett said senior services could be expanded later. The county should operate the new center with the services it has now before starting anything new, she said.

The county already has public health and developmental disability programs in north Fulton offices, but those buildings are either cramped or in disrepair, County Manager Dick Anderson said. Officials found an “extraordinary value” at 4700 North Point Parkway, a former Comcast call center, he said.

The county bought the 100,000-square-foot building in 2019 for $11 million. It became the county’s main site for COVID-19 testing, vaccination and emergency supplies while awaiting renovation.

Roshell said the north center will include a neighborhood senior center and adult day care services.

Some services at the new centers will be aimed at seniors, starting at ages 55 or 60; but most of what will be available there are for everyone, and are not available at the county’s 18 senior centers, Roshell said.

“It will serve any constituent in need of behavioral health services, a DUI court, all of the public health offerings, everything from WIC services to additional services like travel planning,” she said.

The new health centers will not just serve low-income residents, Roshell said. There is a charge for some services, such as adult day care, but that will be on an income-based sliding scale, she said.

Some county health centers offer vaccinations for international travelers a few days a week. The new multifunction centers will do so every day, Roshell said.

The promise to build a matching multifunction health center in south Fulton County went hand-in-hand plans for the one in Alpharetta, Pitts said. But the county is still looking for ways to fund the south center’s estimated $44 million cost, even before dealing with reduced future revenue from an unchanged property tax rate.

“That’s a problem,” Pitts said.

A final site hasn’t been selected for the southern center. Its preferred location is a 40-acres-plus site adjacent to Stonewall Tell Road, but officials are also evaluating a county-owned building nearby that houses a Division of Family & Children Services state office. It’s only partially occupied, so the county could move some services in there and build a smaller structure nearby, Roshell said.

Roshell said the county has allocated $2.5 million toward planning for the south center, in part to decide whether it should be built on land the county already owns or elsewhere. Once that’s decided work can begin on financing construction, she said.

Commissioners voted 5-1 for the ACCG loan on Wednesday, with Pitts voting no and Barrett abstaining.