WIC clinic will have open house July 25

An open house for the Sherburne County WIC clinic will be held Wednesday, July 25 from 12:30–2 p.m. at the new WIC location, 18334 Joplin St., Elk River. The new location is about a mile from the old WIC clinic, which was located in the Sherburne County Government Center.

Sherburne County Health and Human Services has had a contract with the Minnesota Department of Health to administer the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) since 1995. WIC is a nutrition program to promote healthier pregnancies, births and children for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who recently had a baby, infants and children up to their fifth birthday.

In 1999, Sherburne County WIC served an average of 977 participants a month. Today the program serves approximately 1,674 participants a month.

Initially, five WIC clinic sites were located throughout Sherburne County. Due to the a high costs of five locations resulting from staff time spent in travel and clinic set-up and take-down, this has been reduced to two locations in Elk River and Becker. The Becker WIC clinic operates out of the Becker City Hall.

Prior to the Joplin Street location, the Elk River WIC clinic was housed in a conference room at the Sherburne County Government Center.

“As the WIC program in Sherburne County expanded, we exceeded the space available at the government center, and the difficulties of providing clinic services out of a space that was not designed for that purpose was challenging,” said Kara Zoller, Sherburne County Health and Human Services health promotions supervisor.

According to Zoller, noise was also a major concern. “There was no established waiting room, so participants waited in the atrium of the Government Center which was an especially loud area. In addition, the high number of staff and participants in the WIC clinic made it hard for staff to communicate with participants and each other.”

In fact, in December of 2009, the Minnesota Department of Health’s No. 1 recommended action for the Sherburne County WIC program noted lack of space for participants and staff, lack of privacy and noise levels as issues to be addressed.

“By moving the clinic off-site, we will be able to address the concerns identified by the Department of Health and provide a higher quality of services to our WIC participants,” said Ken Ebel, director of Sherburne County Health and Human Services.

In addition, the move will help overall space concerns within the Sherburne County Government Center. As the population of Sherburne County continues to grow, so do the demands on local government, which have created space issues throughout the county. “This will allow us to open up two conference rooms to the entire government center as well as provide the Health and Human Services Department with much-needed staff space,” said Ebel.

The new WIC location, 18334 Joplin St., Elk River, is hosting an open house Wednesday, July 25 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. For more information regarding the open house or WIC, contact 763-765-4000.