Health care not only heals the body it can also heal communities. That’s the story in Providence, Rhode Island, where Providence Community Health Centers is poised to transform one of the city’s most blighted neighborhoods. For many years the health centers’ seven sites have provided care to a good portion of Providence residents. Now, through cobbling together private, public financing, and tax credits, the center is building a 40,200-square-foot clinic on a three-and-a-half acre full-block site. The new site, featured in an article in today’s New York Times, will include a medical-retail complex with a Walgreen’s drug store and a rehabilitated brick factory that Lifespan, the state’s largest hospital network, will use for office space and possibly medical services and educational programs.
“Providence Community Health Centers’ new construction project is the foundation of neighborhood revitalization in the Prarie Ave. neighborhood in South Providence,” said Jane A. Hayward, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Health Center Association. “Rhode Island’s ten community health centers are gearing up to provide expanded primary care services to more Rhode Islanders in response to health reform; this is one of several large expansion projects planned over the next two years.”
Providence Community Health Centers has a staff of 300 and 35,000 patients, according to Merrill R. Thomas, the chief executive of the center which was established in 1968. That number is expected to grow as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. Nationally, health centers plan to double the number of patients who receive care from 20 million to 40 million.