Melrose clinic groundbreaking set for September

Kevin Wilson

When you’re sick, a short drive beats a long one any day of the week.

That’s the philosophy behind nearly five years of work, $500,000 in grant money and a five-month construction process that will result in a health clinic for Melrose.

The facility, which would be run by a contracted health care provider, will have an official groundbreaking 9 a.m. Sept. 1. Completion is set for mid-January.

“The citizens of Melrose support the clinic,” said Curry County Manager and former Melrose Mayor Lance Pyle. “It’s good community development, as well as addressing a need for the residents.”

Pyle said in 2005, there was a meeting in the village of about 750 “about some of their needs and what they’d like to see Melrose do.” The overwhelming answer was a medical clinic of some type.

Now, the project is a go.

A 1,920 square foot clinic is planned to take up part of 3,500 square feet along Main Street, and Pyle said the county also owns 3,920 square feet on the other side of the block, along Fifth Street.

“We’re going to be breaking ground in the next few days,” said Gerald Griego of Griego and Sons, the project manager. “Scheduled completion is Jan. 14.”

The construction is covered with $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant money, and a construction contract was approved by county commissioners Monday.

The village was at first turned down for the grant, because the land needed to be acquired and deeded to the county. Some of the land was purchased, and some was donated, Pyle said.

The grant was approved last year, and Pyle said dozens of Melrose residents attended hearings on the grant in Ruidoso and Santa Fe to show support.

Pyle said the commission has been behind the project the entire time, and every vote associated with the clinic has been unanimous.

During construction, Pyle said he’ll work on a contract with a health provider for basic services — he envisions a place where residents can go for physicals, routine checkups or minor illnesses.

Service could be provided by La Casa, which operates facilities in Clovis and Portales.

Pyle and La Casa CEO Seferino Montano said there’s nothing put to paper, but Montano has said he inquired about running such a clinic and Pyle said the county has been satisfied with La Casa’s work in Clovis.

“At least verbally,” Montano said, “we’ve agreed to the concept of running the clinic.”

Montano figured the clinic would consist of a family nurse practitioner with a few support employees, with referrals made to La Casa’s other doctors.

“If most people simply can’t travel, I would see about having somebody go out to the clinic for half a day (for specialist work),” Montano said. “It’s something we would look at.”

La Casa operates its own pharmacy in Clovis, and Montano said that service could be provided by courier — something that’s been done on a smaller scale for one of the agency’s clinics in Hondo.