The Parkside Neighborhood of Washington, D.C. is getting a brand new, 43,000 square foot Community Health Center to meet the primary health care needs of its residents. This week members of the District of Columbia Primary Care Association (DCPCA), Unity Health Care, and local elected officials came to the future site to break the ground and begin construction of the new state-of-the-art Unity Health Care – Parkside Health Center.
This project is part of DCPCA’s Medical Home DC program to expand access to primary care east of the Anacostia River in underserved communities. The project will cost $26 million, but more than $15 million of it comes from tobacco settlements with the District government. Unlike most states, the D.C. government decided to invest every penny in their tobacco settlement into improving the health of D.C. residents. The new Parkside health center will replace the Hunt Place Center and will more than double its capacity to serve 50,000 District of Columbia residents by the end of next year.
“We had community members come and stay at zoning board meetings that ran until midnight to make this happen,” said DCPCA CEO Sharon Baskerville. The zoning approval process took two years, but the location for the health center is ideal for community residents because it is adjacent to a freeway and is a stone’s throw from a station on Washington’s Metro subway system.
The current health center in Washington’s Ward 7 won’t be missed by anyone at the ceremony. As was pointed out by Unity Health Care President and CEO Vince Keane, the old building is half the size, has no windows, and has a much smaller capacity to serve patients.
Attending the groundbreaking ceremony were D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray, Councilmember Yvette Alexander, dozens of community members, local business owners, and civic leaders.
Unity-Parkside is on schedule to open in December, 2013.