DILLON, S.C. (WBTW) — Local and state health care leaders are hoping that a first-of-its-kind joint facility in Dillon County will help residents get better care.

The South Carolina Department of Environmental Control and the nonprofit company CareSouth Carolina conducted a ribbon-cutting on Saturday for the facility they will share.

“Of all the five counties we serve at CareSouth Carolina, Dillon often ends up at the bottom of the health care rankings,” CareSouth CEO Ann Lewis said.

Lewis said she grew up in Dillon County and has seen the area’s health care shortcomings firsthand.

“This should make a difference in access and being able to provide what we call a patient-centered medical home, where you can get everything in one place,” she said.

Lewis said the facility features four times the space of the old CareSouth Carolina location in Dillon County, allowing the clinic to bring in more providers and see more patients. Also new to this location are a dental office, radiology equipment, a pharmacy and an expanded lab.

“We used to have a small room, so small that we could only provide services to one patient at a time,” sure administrator Jesus Ruiz said. “This is a big improvement, as you can see, and we can provide a lot of services to our patients in Dillon County.”

DHEC offices will occupy one wing of the facility, which gives the agency three times the space it had at its previous Dillon county location.

“Dillon County has long been an underserved rural community,” said Jim Bruckner, DHEC’s Pee Dee regional public health director.

Bruckner said this is the first time DHEC has shared a space with a federally qualified health center, which means the two entities will be able to share clinical tasks like immunizations.

“This has been a long, long road for this partnership,” he said. “It took us three years to get here. “CareSouth is an awesome partner. The services so far are running very smoothly.”