Military Families make up more than One-Third of County’s WIC Clients
Clarksville, TN – Yesterday outgoing Montgomery County Health Director Andre Fresco; incoming Director Joey Smith; Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers; Tennessee Department of Health Chief Medical Officer David Reagan; and Lorine Bizzell, MS, RD from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service; joined together to celebrate the grand opening of the new Women, Infants and Children clinic at the Montgomery County Health Department facility in Clarksville.
Other dignitaries on hand included State Senator Tim Barnes, State Representative Joe Pits, Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Montgomery County Commissioners Robert Nichols and Tommy Vallejos, and 7th District Congressional Candidate Credo Amouzouvik, among others.
The new 8,000 square foot wing provides an expanded and welcoming clinic space for families participating in the WIC program.
“This state of the art facility will permit us to expand our mission of providing front and center public health in this community, in a vibrant and growing place. We are pleased to be here,” said Andre Fresco who served as the emcee for the ribbon cutting ceremony. “I would like to recognize the fact that this construction would not be possible without the partnership that we’ve had for many years in support of the WIC program between the State of Tennessee, Montgomery County Government, and the Federal Government.”
He then recognized Rufus Johnson and Associates, the architects; along with Biscan Construction who built the new $2,101,900 facility. He then thanked the City of Clarksville and Montgomery County for working together to secure the land needed for the expansion project from the Cohen Family who generously donated the property. Fresco then gave special recognition to Clinton Camp the Montgomery County Engineer who spearheaded the project, and Phil Harpel who is the Chief of Administration with Medicare for Montgomery County Government.
Next up was Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers
“We are so pleased to be here today to officially cut the ribbon on the beautiful 8,000 square foot addition to the Montgomery County Health Department,” she said. “The construction of a Woman Infants and Children (WIC) Clinic has been long anticipated, and it will provide many more integrated referral services to the citizens of Clarksville-Montgomery County.”
Mayor Bowers then touted the features of the new clinic which includes nine examination and consultation rooms which can be transitioned to Medical Clinic rooms if needed, as well as a mothers’ room for breastfeeding, and a state of the art classroom/kitchen which also features kiosks for online education. The facility also boasts energy saving room occupation sensors which turn out the lights automatically when no one is inside the room, and high efficiency chillers.
She continued, “Montgomery County continues to serve one of the largest populations through this clinic as well as through the health department as a whole. Having the staff in one single location citizens can navigate easier through referrals and appointments.”
Mayor Bowers then spoke about the cooperation that was required to make the new clinic a reality. “We again want to thank officials from both the state and federal levels for paving the way for this project. This addition would not have been possible without the them recognizing the need to expand the facility, and then partnering with us to make it happen. Thank you to the County commissioners for voting to provide funding and approving this project as well.”
Mayor Bowers then recognized Andre Fresco for his service to the community. “I would also like to take a moment to recognize Andre Fresco, and to thank him for leading our health department for the last several years. Today is his last official day. We are sorry to see Andre leaving. He has done such a fantastic job reaching to our community. He is moving on to other grander opportunities.”
Next up was Tennessee Department of Health Chief Medical Officer David Reagan. “WIC is so important in providing food security to the thousands of mothers and children we serve in Montgomery County and across the state,” Reagan said. “We are pleased to welcome our WIC clients to this new facility which will allow us to better connect these families with nutrition education and other needed health resources.”
Reagan then spoke about the demographics of the Montgomery County WIC clinic. “The Montgomery County’s WIC clinic is Tennessee’s largest rural WIC clinic, and has served more than 10,600 unique patients in the past year. In addition to the civilian community, Montgomery County’s WIC program also provides support for the nearby Fort Campbell Army post, which is the home of the largest United States Army military combat unit, two prestigious Special Operations Command units and the only Air Assault Division in the world. Military families make up 35 percent of the WIC participants in Montgomery County.”
The WIC program also provides an important financial benefit to the community. More than $3.7 million in WIC vouchers have been redeemed in Montgomery County during the past year. On average, more than $309,600 in WIC vouchers are redeemed by Montgomery County retail establishments every month.
He was followed by Lorine Bizzell, MS, RD the representative from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service which helped secure the funding needed for the new facility.
In his closing remarks Andre Fresco recognized the man who would be replacing him, the new Montgomery County Health Director Joey Smith, then the women who would be working in the new clinic. “This is your building now Ladies! As I have said many times this is going to be a place of dignity, and I am proud to have been a small part of it!”
I got a chance to speak with State Senator Tim Barnes while he was touring the new facility, “This new WIC clinic is going to be a fantastic asset for the community. The WIC program helps to provide food security to the needy in our community, and extra help for those who are serving in the military. The services that a family receives is based upon their income and level of need and so the program works remarkably well,” he said.
The new WIC clinic in Montgomery County is an 8,000 square foot facility which provides nine examination and consultation rooms, a mothers’ room for breastfeeding, a state-of-the-art classroom and kiosks for online education. The clinic addition is the result of collaboration among federal, state, county and local government agencies. Montgomery County received $2.1 million in special needs funding from the United States Department of Agriculture in 2010 to improve services to WIC clients. The city of Clarksville and Montgomery County worked together to secure land for the expansion project.
About the WIC Program
The WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program is a federal program designed to provide supplemental food to low-income pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, infants and children until the age of five. WIC in Tennessee is administered by the Tennessee Department of Health.
Learn more about the program online at http://health.state.tn.us/wic/index.htm.
About the Tennessee Department of Health
For more information about TDH services and programs, visit http://health.state.tn.us/.