Project HOME has brought a new health center to a medically underserved area in North Central Philadelphia.
On Monday, representatives from the organization and officials cut the ribbon on the new $19.4 million Stephen Klein Wellness Center. The 28,600-square foot wellness center located at 2144 Cecil B. Moore Ave., is designed to provide health care for people experiencing homelessness and for North Philadelphia residents.
The center’s services include primary care, behavioral health care, wellness classes, on-site legal counseling and assistance with applying for health insurance benefits. The center’s dental care and pharmacy services are slated to be up and running by the summer. The site is also home to a Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA.
The new center brings health care access to an area where more than half of the residents live in poverty. The neighborhood qualifies as a medically underserved area which is designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Service Administration.
“There’s a huge need for health care in general in this neighborhood, where folks have help with navigating the health care system,” said Monica McCurdy, Project HOME’s vice president of healthcare services.
In an effort to help patients navigate the health care system, Project HOME has hired two community health workers to do peer support and accompany people to specialist appointments.
As a community health worker, Loretta Dredden helps connect the clinic’s patients to services such as food banks, transportation, assistance in getting discounts of their medications and getting access to shelter.
“I’m like the bridge between the patient and the health care provider. With that bridge they can cross over to a common goal which is quality health and living,” said Dredden, who is also a patient of the center.
Dredden appreciates having access to a health care facility that provides primary medical care, access to nutrition classes and a place to exercise in the heart of North Philadelphia.
“The Stephen Klein Wellness Center is a one-stop shop for healthy living. This is where you get it all,” she added.
The second community health worker focuses on doing targeted outreach to the residents of the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Norman Blumberg Apartments. The housing complex lies in close proximity to the new health care clinic.
McCurdy said there will be a major focus on helping patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
“We really want to focus more on wellness and on prevention. Prevention is a real big push for what we want to do here,” she added.
The new center expands healthcare services that Project HOME and Jefferson Family Medicine, has been providing in North Philadelphia for almost 20 years. Project HOME formerly provided health care at St. Elizabeth’s Health Center at 21st and Berks.
The new facility is named for lead funder Stephen Klein who has been a champion of the project. The center was established in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals, Jefferson Medical College Department of Family and Community Medicine, Leigh and John Middleton and the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration.
This marks the third venture of the Middleton Partnership, a collaboration which leverages the support of both public and private funders working together to end homelessness through affordable housing, opportunities for employment, healthcare and education.