N E W S R E L E A S E
August 18, 2011
Shelley Saukko, Deputy Director
Public Health & Human Services
County to Hold Grand Opening for New Central Client Area on August 23
St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, along with the county’s Public Health & Human Services and Property Management Departments, announces the Grand Opening of the new Central Client Area located on the First Floor of the Duluth Government Services Center. An Open House will be held on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. with a dedication ceremony scheduled at 5:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend the event, at 320 West Second Street, Duluth.
This new Central Client Area is the result of a two-year planning and remodeling project within the Government Services Center, and is the first major upgrade of the former State of Minnesota office building since the county assumed ownership in 2002. The Central Client Area was designed to create an integrated, flexible service delivery model that can adapt to changing needs over time, and will include representatives from all major program areas of the Public Health & Human Services Department. Also included will be the United Way 211 information and referral service, connecting clients to other agencies and resources in our community.
Increasingly, the county is seeking efficiencies and better use of resources in order to maintain quality of services. By leveraging all its collective assets, a cost-effective continuum of services will be created in the Central Client Area that helps strengthen the county’s ability to serve the public. This new business model integrates a variety of specialty staff into teams that focus on two main functions: Initial Contact, where clients receive information, assistance, and initial consultation and connections to services and community resources; and Eligibility Determination and Assessment, where clients needing more than information and referrals, apply for programs and services and may receive short-term assistance. Included also, will be a strong connection to community partners, agencies and advocates who can serve as referral sources.
Previously, clients needed to visit four different program areas, located on four different floors of the building. This created a complex structural maze adding even more confusion to the sometimes daunting task of accessing appropriate government services. But, in addition to benefiting clients, the new Central Client Area will improve the use of building space, mitigate security related issues, lower cleaning and maintenance costs, and reduces the building’s overall utility bill. The project encompassed the entire first floor of the Government Services Center, and includes, centralized intake for Public Health and Human Services, secure interview rooms, shared reception spaces, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades, and general remodeling upgrades to meet current building codes for professional office buildings.
Over $850,000 of the total renovation cost of $1.3 million was funded through the allocation of one time reimbursements to state social service programs made possible as part of the federal stimulus bill. The general contractor was Merrimac Construction (East Bethel, MN), and the architectural firm was Meyer Group Architects (Duluth, MN).
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