Port Arthur Health Department upgrades detailed, timeline calls for November finish

Published 12:40 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

Construction on a $4.5 million project to relocate the Port Arthur Health Department is underway and expected to be complete in November 2023.

Corey Rawls of Sigma Engineers said work began in October to renovate the former Texas Health and Human Services building.

A rendering of the building shows 42,000 square feet of space will be renovated to hold multiple clinic spaces.

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“We have had several meetings with (Health Director Judith Smith) to coordinate this and to make sure we get everything that is needed…to meet the proper needs for the city’s health department,” Rawls said.

The different suites include vaccinations, a laboratory, a pharmacy, WIC, adult services, immunization, tuberculosis testing, public health, vital statistics, Nurse Family Partnership, physical fitness, public health preparedness and office spaces.

Each entrance has a new façade on the front numbered to better guide clients.

The contractor took possession of the property Oct. 26.

“We had a pre-construction meeting that same day,” Rawls said.

Subsequent site visits showed exterior demolition in progress Nov. 9, and interior floor saw cutting and work on underground plumbing Dec. 7.

“They are currently still doing saw cutting in the building. Partition wall layout has started on one portion of the building,” Rawls said. “Demolition of the exterior has started. Also parking lot sidewalk demolition has started.”

Structural steel for the entrances will be delivered next week.

The former Texas Health and Human Services office on 9th Avenue is undergoing renovations to house the Port Arthur Health Department. (Monique Batson/The News)

In 2020, the Port Arthur City Council approved the $4.5 million project after purchasing the 9th Avenue building for $1.6 million. The health department is currently located in Downtown Port Arthur in a building that was purchased by Motiva Enterprises two months prior.

Sina Nejad, president of Sigma Engineers, said a few structural issues were discovered after demolition, which resulted in minor structural revisions to the roof, which will be replaced in total, as well as a portion of gutters.

“The electrical equipment is going to be delayed for quite some time,” he said. “That’s just the nature of what’s going on with the industry. Some of the panels are 52 weeks delivery. They’re embarrassed to say one year so they tell you 52 weeks. It is a long time.”

The city, he said, is providing a generator for the project that will be used in the event electrical equipment is delayed in order to meet the November deadline.

All existing plumbing and HVAC materials will be replaced.

“We did not want to have a unit that if it goes down the whole building is out,” Nejad said. “We also have the vaccination, we have the TB area — those areas you’re not going to recirculate the air into the building because of possible infection. So for that reason, all of these air conditioning units had to be changed and brought up to new code.”

He said at this time they do not anticipate surpassing the project schedule.

“We are a 30-year-old engineering and architectural firm, and this has been one of the largest projects that we’ve done for the City of Port Arthur,” he said.

The Port Arthur Health Department serves Port Arthur, as well as Nederland, Port Neches and Groves.