A muddy expanse of dirt and the remains of a dilapidated mobile building marked the spot Thursday where a new WIC clinic will be built on Fort Stewart. A row of gold shovels, each tied with a blue and white bow, stood waiting for Coastal Health District, military and business leaders to grasp for a ceremonial groundbreaking.
WIC (Women, Infants and Children) is a federally funded nutrition-education program. WIC provides supplemental food, nutrition education, social services and health referrals to income-eligible pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5, Coastal Health District spokeswoman Sally Silbermann said.
Liberty County Health Department administrator Deidre Howell described her vision of the new WIC clinic, complete with concrete pavers and shady trees in the clinic’s future expanded parking lot.
"There will be more green space," Howell said. "We’ll have islands with trees in the parking lot. It gets really hot here in the summer, and our mothers have to put their babies into hot cars. This way the trees will give the cars some shade and cut down on that heat."
She said the old WIC clinic was the only drive-through WIC clinic in Georgia years ago. While the old building is taken down, the new modular clinic building will be built, she said.
3rd Infantry Division deputy commander Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips said the new clinic "is an expression of the community’s care for individuals."
Like the Army, the Liberty County community takes care of its own, Phillips said.
Howell said the health department serves an average of 2,200 WIC clients each week, and many of them are military spouses and dependents.
"We are very fortunate to take advantage of the opportunity for infrastructure funding from USDA and the approval and support of Fort Stewart to build a state-of-the-art clinic in a beautiful environment," Coastal Health District WIC coordinator Tonya Scott said in a news release.
WIC clients connected to Fort Stewart have been directed to come to the WIC clinic at the health department on Highway 84 in Hinesville while the new WIC clinic is built. Howell said the new clinic is expected to open in late June.
Once completed, the new 3,024-square-foot WIC clinic will house office space, a nutrition education room, a breastfeeding room, a laboratory and two waiting rooms, Silbermann said.