GOVERNOR PATRICK CELEBRATES GROUNDBREAKING OF NEW WHITTIER STREET HEALTH CENTER
$12 million in federal funding will help increase the capacity of health center's services to up to 220,000 visits annually and create 500 jobs
Governor Patrick speaks at the groundbreaking of the new Whittier Health Center in Roxbury. (Photo credit: Matt Bennett/Governor's Office)
BOSTON - Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and other state and city leaders today broke ground at the new site of the Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. The new facility will be a 78,000-square foot, state-of-the-art health center, and will nearly double the capacity of services to residents of Roxbury and surrounding communities.
The estimated $35 million expansion of Whittier includes $12 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which Governor Patrick advocated for with the Obama Administration. It will enable Whittier to expand its current ability to serve 60,000 patient visits to approximately 103,000 patient visits by 2015. It will also create 450 construction jobs and 50 permanent, full-time jobs.
"Community health centers are essential to our health care system and the Whittier Street Health Center is one of the best," said Governor Patrick. "This team and their patients deserve this new state of the art facility, the neighborhood deserves this investment in its future, and we welcome the construction and permanent jobs that come with it."
"Whittier Street has demonstrated a strong commitment to patient-centered care and to improving the health of the community," said Secretary Bigby. "This expansion provides Whittier with additional resources to combat the disproportionately high rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, HIV/AIDS and other health risks facing this community."
"It's a step in the right direction when we can create jobs in Roxbury and at the same time double our capacity for providing healthcare services to those who desperately need it. I'm glad we were able to play a role in making this happen," said Senator John Kerry.
"Community Health Centers play a vital role in our neighborhoods, not only increasing access to essential health care services but also creating jobs. The Whittier Street Health Center already provides quality care and the new facility will make it possible for staff to meet the needs of additional patients as well as offer additional services," said Congressman Mike Capuano, who established and co-chairs the Community Health Centers Caucus in the House.
The Whittier Street Health Center is part of the Boston Empowerment Zone, an area identified as having a higher concentration of poverty, and where residents face considerable adverse socio-economic and environmental risks to their overall health. As part of this expansion, Whittier has hired a diversity consultant to ensure that people living in the areas surrounding the Center benefit from the new jobs. Whittier Street Health Center is currently located at 1125 Tremont Street; its new home will be at 1190 Tremont Street in Roxbury.
In addition to a $12 million community health center ARRA grant, the Center also received two other ARRA awards, including $595,000 for Capital Improvement Projects (office space renovation into dental facilities, and the implementation of electronic health records) and $233,000 to address an Increased Demand for Services that supports the staff additions of one dentist, two dental assistants, a physician and a medical assistant.
"This project enhances Boston's reputation as a global leader in health care, one of our key economic drivers. Everyone talks about Boston's renowned hospitals, and rightfully so, but our community health centers are just as important and just as impressive. Perhaps most importantly, this project means we are closer to our shared vision of a Lower Roxbury with more opportunity and more progress," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
"The communities that Whittier serves are at high risk for debilitating and costly chronic diseases and negative health outcomes," said CEO of the Whittier Street Health Center, Frederica Williams. "Whittier works closely with the community to provide care to those facing these significant health issues, and to address the underlying causes of these disparities. This new building will give us the much needed capacity to provide up to 220,000 clinic visits annually and we will be able to increase health care delivery efficiencies, expand our community outreach programs, establish our permanency in the community, and serve as an economic boon to the Roxbury community."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $508 million in ARRA funds to 85 community health centers across the country for new construction. Massachusetts received the most funding of any state, nearly $80 million for eight clinics throughout the Commonwealth. Last month, Governor Patrick signed into law legislation that will expand community health center access to capital bond funding.