Tour targets Health and Human Services

Department requesting more space

Photo by Deb Gau Lyon County commissioners, Southwest Health and Human Services staff, and Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg toured the county government center on Wednesday, to learn more about expanded office space being requested for SWHHS. Here, Commissioner Steve Ritter and Stomberg, at left and right, talked about where a permanent wall between offices could be built.

MARSHALL — The Lyon County Government Center is a central location for area health and human services workers. The problem is, they’re running short on space, Southwest Health and Human Services Director Chris Sorensen said Wednesday.

Compared to a few years ago, there are many more SWHHS staff at the government center — up to 150 a day, Sorensen said. The agency is requesting more office space to accommodate them.

SWHHS serves Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood and Rock counties.

The Lyon County Board will be considering SWHHS’ space request at an upcoming meeting. In preparation for that discussion, county commissioners and SHHS staff members took a tour of the government center Wednesday morning. The tour focused on a few areas within the existing building where office space could be rearranged or renovated.

“Some departments have more space than what they need,” said Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg.

Commissioners and SWHHS staff looked at offices and meeting rooms on all three floors of the government center. Stomberg said the plan would be for SWHHS to expand into office space on the building’s ground floor, where offices for Southern Prairie Community Care and the Lyon County Veterans Services Office are now, as well as space in the former county commissioners’ chambers on the second floor. The VSO would move to the second floor of the government center, while SPCC would move to the third floor.

During the tour, SWHHS staff members pointed out some features, like security, that would need to be a part of the new office space. Factors like where meeting or interview rooms and exits were located would have an effect on security, they said.

Wednesday’s tour wasn’t the first time the space request had been discussed with commissioners. Sorensen formally presented the request to the county board last week. Sorensen said SWHHS has 113 staff permanently assigned at the government center, and around 20 to 35 ancillary staff, commuters or interns are present on any given day. In addition, the SWHHS offices don’t have extra space for interviewing rooms, or meeting space for circle programs.

At the county board meeting last week, Stomberg said it could be possible to make a new office arrangement work without a high cost to the county.

“There’s not a lot of remodeling that would need to be done,” Stomberg said.

The downside, Commissioner Steve Ritter said at the meeting, is that there’s not much unused space left at the government center. If SWHHS gets permission to expand its offices, “This might be the last one,” he said.

The office space request will come back before the commissioners at their regular meeting next week.