Whittier Street Health Center has publicly unveiled its new six-story, 79,000 square foot green building in Roxbury, Mass. The new health and wellness facility provides expanded capacity for the Center to continue its mission of providing high quality and cost effective healthcare.
The $37 million building will house a variety of medical, social and wellness services to improve the health of a community facing significant disparities in healthcare access and outcomes. In addition to primary care, the new facility will provide a holistic array of services, all in one location including, dental and eye care, behavioral health and substance abuse services, a pharmacy, a physical therapy clinic, and community space.
It will also feature the new Dana-Farber Mammography Suite and medical oncology consultation through a partnership with Dana-Farber Community Cancer Care to address high mortality rates from cancer in the community. The health center's design incorporates many "green" features and is seeking certification as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver building. These features underscore Whittier's commitment to creating a "healthy" building and environment with its new facility.
The new building is funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding (ARRA). In 2010, Whittier received a $12 million grant through an ARRA, a funding opportunity supported by the US Department of Health and Human Services. "Massachusetts is a national leader in access to health care, thanks to organizations like the Whittier Street Health Center," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Whittier's new facility has created jobs and opportunities for hundreds of Massachusetts residents. I thank the Obama Administration and all of the committed partners for supporting this innovative health center."
Roxbury, the primary service area of the new building, consistently ranks low for health outcomes and health behaviors among Boston's 16 neighborhoods. According to the Boston Public Health Commission's 2011 Health of Boston Report, among Boston's 16 neighborhoods, Roxbury has the highest infant mortality rate, the highest rate of hospitalizations due to heart disease and the second highest diabetes hospitalization rate.
"Whittier Street Health Center is a model for how care is best delivered in an urban environment and no one is more dedicated to Boston's underserved than Whittier Street Health Center's CEO, Frederica Williams," said Thomas M. Menino, Mayor of Boston. "It is because of her vision and determination that the new, larger space, will help even more of our city's residents receive high quality healthcare."
"The new building allows us to accomplish so much more related to improving the health of our community," said Frederica Williams, President and CEO of WSHC. "In addition to reaching more patients and increasing our breadth of services, our new building will allow us to address increasing healthcare costs by offering innovative programs that reduce complications from chronic diseases."
In addition, the new facility will create 50 new full time healthcare jobs, over 30 of which have already been filled. Constructing the building also supported 450 construction jobs.
The new Whittier Street Health Center will increase its capacity from the 70,000 patient visits conducted in the old building in 2011 to a new capacity of 220,000 patient visits. Currently, Whittier's patients represent 20 different countries with 17 languages spoken by staff at the health center.