February has come and gone, and folks in the upper part of Berkeley County are still waiting for ground-breaking at the new Cross Health Center.
They’ve been waiting eight years, so another month might not seem like much. But it is when the people up that way were told in January that the ground-breaking could happen in a month.
“We’ve got to get something going on,” said John McCants, a Goose Creek City Councilman who serves on a committee trying to get the center built. “People are asking questions and saying all they’re getting is excuses. It’s time to stop that. This has been going on too long.”
The center on Old Highway 6 is part of the nonprofit Franklin C. Fetter Family Health Center network, which provides health care to medically underserved residents, many elderly or poor, on a sliding scale regardless of their ability to pay.
The new $850,000 building will replace a 1,500-square-foot facility that is more than 30 years old and ill-fit to serve the needs of the 400-plus patients who visit each month.
The new building, next to the existing one on a two-acre tract donated by Berkeley County, will be about four times the size, with nine exam rooms, a pharmacy and a laboratory in addition to space for an additional doctor.
While they’ve been waiting, the committee has continued fund-raising. At Berkeley County Councilman Caldwell Pinckney’s monthly constituent meeting in February, checks for the fund were presented from DuPont and a Celebrate the Seasons light show fund-raiser.
Reuben Pettiford, who took the helm as Fetter’s executive director earlier this month, said the project is “high up on my list of things to do.”
Plans are moving forward but are out of Fetter’s hands, waiting for federal approval of funding and plans.
“I think that’s imminent,” he said. “We are thinking sometime in the next month or so we should be breaking ground. That paperwork is in (the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s) hands and the information that was left with me is that we are in the final stages, so as soon as they get their approvals and give it to us, we are ready to move forward.”
Pettiford said he understands the frustrations of people in the area, but hopes they understand.
“We have a long-term investment in the community and we definitely want to continue with that,” he said. “It’s just that sometimes we’ve got to jump through hoops. We’ve jumped through all the hoops and I don’t think there’s any more to jump through. We are just as excited about getting going on this project as they are.”