Spectrum Health opens new facility

The new center located at 5201 Haverford Avenue is a LEED Silver energy efficient building.— photo by ABDUL SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

A new health care facility has opened its doors in West Philadelphia.

After a 20-year planning process, Spectrum Health Services, Inc. has opened a $14 million health center at 5201 Haverford Ave. The new facility replaces the older Haddington Health Center located at 56th and Vine streets, which has served community residents since 1983.

“We had maxed out our space so we couldn’t grow, so we couldn’t add staff. We couldn’t add services. It was important for the organization that if we were going to continue serving our community that we needed to have more space,” said SHS President and CEO Phyllis B. Cater.

The new 36,000 square foot center allows Spectrum to expand its services and provide primary health care to more residents. The older center served 12,000 patients on an annual basis and SHS anticipates doubling that number within the next two years.

The facility features 34 exam rooms, a pharmaceutical dispensary, a community room and a demonstration kitchen where patients can learn about nutrition and healthy cooking. The center features primary care, geriatric care, pediatric care, prenatal care, behavioral health, family planning services and nutrition counseling services. Once it receives federal approval, the center will start offering full service dental service in its eight-operatory suite.

For the last 29 years, Spectrum has been serving the West Philadelphia community. More than 20 percent of the people served by Spectrum are uninsured and more than 70 percent are medically underserved. The new center is located in the 10th most impoverished district in the nation. Services are provided on a sliding scale fee basis.

“We serve anyone who walks through our doors, regardless of their financial status. There aren’t a lot of places where you can do that,” said Cater.

The new facility was recently bolstered by a $75,000 grant from the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. Last Wednesday, IBC Foundation President Lorina Marshall-Blake presented Spectrum officials with a check and toured the facility. The presentation occurred during National Health Centers Week, an annual observance that highlights the work of community health centers across the country. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in Pennsylvania 40 health centers operating 250 sites served more than 670,000 patients last year, 27 percent of whom were uninsured.

“When I think of this center and all that’s going on here, I think of servant leadership — which means you lead by serving and you serve by leading. I thank you for being present right here in this community,” Marshall-Blake told SHS staff who gathered for the check presentation.

Since 2001, the IBC Foundation has provided more than $5 million in funding to 43 community health centers throughout the five-county region.

The funds that IBC granted to Spectrum will be used to fund the patient centered medical home model.

“It’s a model where you bring a team of your clinical and your professional staff together to really focus on the specific needs to any patient. It gives the providers partners in helping to manage [the patient’s] care,” Cater said.

The clinic is one of more than 1,200 community health centers who are preparing to help link people to health coverage through the health insurance or state exchange marketplace. The Affordable Care Act requires state exchanges to establish a navigator program that will help people learn about their health coverage options. SHS received federal funding to hire two new navigators who will serve as a resource for those who need assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans.

“It’s going to take a lot for the average person to understand their choices,” said Cater.

SHS started out in 1967 by offering family planning services for women in North Philadelphia. In 1983, SHS opened the Haddington Health Center to provide primary care services to area residents.

The new center was funded through a mix of grants and loans totaling $14 million, led by a $2 million grant from the city’s Brownfields Economic Development Initiative, a $1.7 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and loans of $2.4 million administered through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

The center will hold a grand opening celebration on Sept. 27 at 11 a.m.


Contact staff writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or ajones@phillytrib.com.

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