With Hickory Hollow Mall no longer an option, the Metro Public Health Department has looked at eight Antioch area sites, identifying three of them as the most viable locations to establish a new clinic that serves women, infants and children.
Previously, Metro had eyed space inside the struggling shopping center as its first choice for the health department’s fourth WIC clinic, a health services program available to pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children. Those plans were foiled last month at the request of District 32 Metro Councilman Sam Coleman, the area’s representative, who backed nearby residents and their concerns over the move.
“Even though the mall is declining in the manner that you see it, many thought that the new clinic would have signaled the end for the mall,” Coleman said. “That’s what they didn’t want to see.”
Bart Perkey, the department’s director of health services access, declined to reveal the locations being discussed because property owners have not given permission to do so. He said all potential sites reside in southeast Nashville ZIP codes –– 37217, 37211 and 37013.
Metro’s WIC clinics are fueled by a $2.6 million yearly grant from the state of Tennessee. The department has budgeted $22,500 per year for space costs for a new Antioch center.
“We’ve identified (properties) that meet our program needs and appear to be available to us based on our budgeted amount,” Perkey said. “Right now, what we’re trying to do is gather information so that the people in the various communities, in these Council districts, can see what we’re looking at and get their feedback. We really want their support.”
Nashvillians will have at least two formal chances to have a say on the health department’s search.
The first community meeting will be held this Thursday, Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m., at the Antioch United Methodist Church, a gathering where five Antioch area Council members will discuss the possible locations –– and the pros and cons of each site –– with citizens. At the second meeting, scheduled for Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Living Word Community Church, the health department itself is expected to run through the final location possibilities with residents.
“I want to show that we’re doing it a lot differently than before,” said Coleman, alluding to the lack of citizen feedback before the Hickory Hollow destination was targeted. “That’s important to me. We want to let everybody have some input.”
Coleman said he is fine with any site, whether it’s in his district or not, so long as the health department demonstrates a scientific approach to the search, ensuring that people in need of the services will have access.
“I certainly don’t want to penalize people who need (the WIC clinic) by saying, ‘We don’t care about you. Truck across town,’” Coleman said. “That’s my concern.”