Jefferson County Commissioners today received a progress report on construction of the Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority building.
The new clinic is being constructed where the Cooper Green Hospital parking deck had been. Administrator Laura Hurst said the building will have five stories with the first four being occupied upon completion. The fifth floor allows for expansion.
David Randall, board president and CEO of the health authority, said the construction is only part of the changes at Cooper Green. He said strategy, financial assistance and sustainability have also been enhanced along with the general feeling about the facility having been improved.
“I don’t know how many of you walked through Cooper Green the last couple of years but compare that environment to what we’re proposing here. It’s completely night and day,” Randall said. “We know how important physical environment is to healing the patients. This is an environment where all of us would want to go, not just as a last resort.
“We plan on having Cooper Green developed in a way that it is a national model as a benchmark in how we can serve the vulnerable communities around us in a more engaging way,” he continued. “We want the buzz to say, ‘What’s going on in Birmingham?’ We’re excited about the progress we’re making.”
Construction is expected to be complete in late 2024 or early the following year, according to a statement from UAB/Cooper Green.
Lashunda Scales asked about expansion to the UAB Hospital emergency room because of the number of gun violence victims. She said many of those patients would be in the pool of patients for Cooper Green Mercy. “You’re dealing with the same people, for the most part,” she said.
Randall said UAB is partnering with Cooper Green to increase enrollment of persons receiving care at the clinic. He added that there is a counselor in the UAB emergency room to “fast track” enrollment of eligible persons.
“You can create that primary care relationship with Cooper Green,” he said. “We think that’s extremely important. I think that continuity is very important to us.”
Voting Precinct Change
During the committee meeting, commissioners also heard a request to change a voting precinct from UAB’s Bartow Arena to the Memorial Park Recreation Center in Birmingham’s Titusville Community. The move, for the special election for House District 55, was predicated by voter parking there being used as a staging site for nearby construction.
That action, which was moved to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting in Bessemer, is thought to be temporary. Announced $35 million renovations to Bartow Arena following the upcoming basketball season could make it an extended change.
Commissioners moved to the Thursday agenda the demolition of 10 unsafe structures in Docena. Sixteen more Docena structures were added to that list in new business.
This story has been corrected to say the Cooper Green construction should be complete in late 2024 or early 2025, rather than in July of next year.