WIC to open satellite clinic
WORTHINGTON — The Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program offered through Nobles County Community Services has seen increased growth in recent months and is now looking to expand even further.
With more than 1,100 clients seen each month — the highest number since Nobles and Rock counties split their combined public health program several years ago — Community Services now plans to establish a WIC satellite office at the West Learning Center at the intersection of Turner and Clary streets. The office is slated to open in mid-February.
Community Health Services Administrator Terri Janssen said the satellite office idea grew out of discussions with her staff about gaps in service.
“A pretty common theme arose that the staff felt we weren’t reaching everyone we could,” she said. As she met with other agencies in Worthington, she broached District 518 Community Education about providing a satellite office at the West Learning Center, and was encouraged to pursue the idea.
The West Learning Center houses such programs as Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE), Adult Basic Education, Community Connectors and the Alternative Learning Center. Each has an overlap with clients who could potentially be accessing WIC services.
WIC is a supplemental nutrition and education food program in which clients learn healthier eating habits that are then taught to their young children. WIC services children from birth to age 5, along with pregnant and postpartum women.
An added bonus of a satellite office at the West Learning Center is that District 518 already provides child care and transportation, both of which benefit increasing WIC clientele. In addition, a presence at the West Learning Center means access to additional interpreters to better serve clientele.
Janssen said District 518 has offered Community Health Services a space in the building at no charge, and the state WIC program has already provided the equipment necessary to open a satellite office. Yet to be determined are the hours and days in which the clinic will be open at the West Learning Center.
Local WIC Coordinator Stephanie Ross said WIC will continue to be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the main office at the Nobles County Government Center, with the satellite office having the potential for extended hours of operation.
“Hopefully we can meet more clientele this way,” Ross said, adding that it is difficult for some people to get to the downtown office because of transportation, work or childcare issues.
The WIC program receives both state and federal reimbursement based on the number of clients it serves. The more clients seen, the more money received.
“Growth is good,” said Janssen, adding that if a WIC satellite office is successful at the West Learning Center, she may look at offering other Community Services programs in outreach offices.
“We’re just breaking ground here a little bit,” she said. “We’ve been trying to branch out to better serve Nobles County. I’m very excited.”
The timing of the satellite WIC office opening comes when the Community Services department prepares for a planned closure of the elevator system in the Government Center for repairs. While the elevator is out of service, the daily WIC clinic will be relocated to the second floor of the Government Center.
Two WIC certifiers will work from the Community Services office on the second floor during the elevator closure, while the third certifier will be at the West Learning Center. The satellite office will be reevaluated once the elevator is completed.
“We’re so thrilled that Community Education could find us space to be able to make this happen,” Janssen said.
Anne Foley, District 518 Community Education Director, said the WIC satellite office offers a one-stop shop for families who attend programs at the West Learning Center.
“We have quite a few people that live within the city limits where transportation is really a hindrance,” Foley said. “To have (WIC) available for some hours at West saves them from another trip, lining up another ride or adjusting work schedules to get to those appointments. It will be a huge benefit for the programs we currently have where parents and children are together in the building.”
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.