Pima county seeks to buy south-side Tucson health clinic

2014-05-05T00:00:00Z Pima county seeks to buy south-side Tucson health clinicBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Pima County wants to spend roughly $1.4 million to buy a south- side health clinic, allowing the county Health Department to then close two aging clinics nearby.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry wants to buy a 12,000-square-foot clinic off Valencia Road near Interstate 10, currently the home of Cholla Campus of Cope Community Services.

The building is appraised at $1.1 million, and the county expects to spend an additional $250,000 renovating the space. The county would use $1.4 million left over from a 2004 bond to pay for the move.

The plan will allow the Health Department to consolidate services currently offered at the Theresa Lee Health Center on South Freeway Road and the Walter C. Rogers Clinic on West Irvington Road. Both properties would be closed after the transition to the new facilities off of Valencia Road.

Pima County Health Director Francisco Garcia said it was “unfeasible” to renovate the 58-year- old Theresa Lee clinic.

Originally built as a juvenile detention center in 1956, the facility was converted to a health clinic in 1972, according to county documents.

“The total projected cost to demolish, reconstruct and temporarily relocate services at the current site far exceeds existing bond authority and is therefore not feasible,” wrote Garcia in a memo to staff last month.

The Rogers clinic, which was built on land leased from the city, was also in need of significant repairs, he said.

The new facility, if the purchase moves forward, will be named Theresa Lee Clinic South, continuing to honor one of the county’s earlier public health nurses.

“We are also very much aware and appreciative of the role played by Theresa Lee in the development of the public health program in our county,” Garcia said.

Garcia said he doesn’t expect moving the new clinic farther south will keep locals from getting medical treatment.

“Our assessment is that relocation will not hinder client access to services since 32 percent of all clients receiving clinical services reside within the ZIP code areas immediately surrounding the new location,” Garcia wrote.

The same study found 88 percent of those using the Theresa Lee location drove to the clinic in their personal vehicles.

A spokesperson for Cope Community Services was not available for comment.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com

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