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Deputy Agriculture Secretary Tours a Facility that will Improve Family Health Care in a Michigan Community

From left: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Congressman Mark Schauer, Center for Family Health Executive Director Molly Kaser and State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner discuss the new health center.

From left: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Congressman Mark Schauer, Center for Family Health Executive Director Molly Kaser and State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner discuss the new health center.

Yesterday I accompanied Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, State Director for Michigan Rural Development James Turner and Congressman Mark Schauer on a visit to the Center for Family Health (CFH) in Jackson, a city about 30 miles south of Lansing.

Though the event was indoors, the weather still had a part to play, thanks to a massive storm system that swept across the Midwest yesterday morning and into the afternoon.  Tornado sirens were sounding as I prepared to leave the state office and downed branches were lying in Lansing’s streets, but by the time I reached Jackson, the weather was beginning to clear.

The CFH has begun construction on a new downtown health center funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Thanks to a USDA Business and Industry Loan Guarantee, the new medical building will consolidate services currently provided in five different locations.  The three-story structure will have 54,000 square feet and include a pharmacy, on-site Diagnostic Center for Labs and x-rays, Quick-Access Clinic with 9 exam rooms, more than 60 medical exam rooms, 14 dental operatories, classrooms for health education training and  an Information Center for health coverage programs.

Their current facilities are very crowded, which is a testament to how important the center is to Jackson County residents.  While Jackson itself is somewhat built up, the county area surrounding it is very rural, with farms and small towns dotting the landscape.  Jackson was once a center of high-paying manufacturing jobs, but years of plant closings have left the city was a much smaller population – and less opportunity.

The new facility is helping to revive the downtown, providing a new streetscape and improved access.  It is also creating jobs in the short term, as construction crews are busy at work on the new structure, which will open late next spring.

Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack announced additional guarantees to help promote business development and job creation in 10 states.  Read the release here.

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