WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County commissioners on Monday voted unanimously to consolidate the county’s Public Health and Social Services departments into one human services agency. Officials said the consolidation would become effective on July 1.
Under this new structure, the county board of commissioners will appoint a 15-person Consolidated Human Services Board to set a unified vision for the new agency.
“This is an important policy decision for our community, and I believe it will serve our citizens better with more efficiencies and an improved client experience,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “The programs our Public Health and Social Services departments offer will continue; what will change is the way they are administered. The goal is to make sure our clients and families have every opportunity available to them through the services of both agencies, and to make those service offerings as streamlined as possible.”
Construction of the 96,000-square-foot facility, located at 1650 Greenfield Street, that will eventually house the newly-formed agency has been underway since May, and county officials expect it to open in the fall.
Social Services personnel will move into the new building once it’s complete so a new parking lot can be constructed at the site of old Social Services building. By Feb. 2020, public health functions will move into the building, “creating greater synergy for the consolidated agency at one location,” officials said.
In 2012, the North Carolina General Assembly gave counties the ability to consolidate departments into one Human Services agency. Similar mergers have taken place in 37 counties throughout the state, officials said.
The site of the county’s previous health department was sold to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in 2017 for $19.3 million to make way for new hospital parking.