Groundbreaking

What: Elijah Wright Health Center

Where: 1693 Old Highway 6, Cross

When: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday

Speakers include: Darlene Wright, Dr. Adebola Rojugbokan, state Rep. Joe Jefferson, state Sent. John Matthews, County Councilman Caldwell Pinckney Jr., and Cross Health Center founder Thaddeus Bell.

CROSS — Residents of upper Berkeley County have wanted access to decent health care for years.

The time has finally come.

“The people in this area have waited a long, long time for this,” said Berkeley County Councilman Caldwell Pinckney Jr., who worked with community leaders and local and state officials to make a new health center a reality. “It is very much needed.”

Ground-breaking for the Elijah Wright Health Center is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at 1659 Old Highway 6, Cross.

“Everybody is excited,” said Reuben Pettiford, chief executive officer of the Fetter Health Care Network. “This is a big deal. It’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility and a beautiful site. The Cross community has waited a long time and we are very pleased to see this important project finally come to fruition.”

The center is part of the nonprofit Fetter network, which provides health care to medically underserved residents, many elderly or poor, on a sliding scale regardless of their ability to pay. It serves about 400 people a month from places like St. Stephen, Alvin, Eutawville or Eadytown. Beyond the center, the nearest doctors are 30 minutes away, in Moncks Corner or Holly Hill.

For years, folks in the area have held fundraisers for the new $850,000 building, collecting donations from church barbecues, local businesses and community events, as Fetter has also done its part to secure funding.

When Pettiford took the helm at Fetter in March, he said the project was a priority.

“As I got to know the people, I really understood that they just wanted their health center,” said Pettiford. “I committed to them that I would get it done as quickly as possible so that’s what we did.”

Set to open in about five months, the new facility will be built next to the current 1,800-square-foot building that has served the area for more than 30 years with two exam rooms and equipment that was labeled by Fetter as “deteriorated beyond repairing and upgrading.”

The center is served by one physician, Adebola Rojugbokan, who sees patients with routine and chronic issues and provides services such as cancer screening, obstetric care, immunizations and nutritional and diabetes education.

The new building, on a two-acre tract donated by Berkeley County, is named for the late Elijah Wright, a community leader who owned the nearby Wright’s Grocery and was a member of the Fetter board for more than 20 years, until his death in September 2012.

His daughter, Darlene Wright, now serves on the board and will speak at the ground-breaking Saturday.

The building will be about four times bigger than the old one. It will have nine exam rooms, a pharmacy and a laboratory in addition to space for an additional doctor and expanded services.

Fetter projects that it will accommodate about 2,200 patient appointments per month.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.