Primary Care Center Quadruples In Size To Better Serve Central Brooklyn's Needs
The Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center in the heart of Brooklyn is undergoing a huge expansion, to address an even larger problem in one of the most critically underserved parts of the city. NY1's Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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It has served neighborhoods throughout central Brooklyn for more than 30 years, and now the Bedford-Stuyvesant Family Health Center is expanding from 10,000-square-feet to a nearly 40,000-square-feet facility that recently had a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Those behind the center say quadruple the space means adding much-needed primary care to a part of the city with some of the biggest health disparities in the nation, where many are going without a regular doctor.
"We have high rates of diabetes and hypertension and asthma and things like that. Most of our clients go to the emergency room and we encourage them to come here for primary care instead of going to the emergency room," says Bedford-Stuyvesant Health Center CEO Patricia Fernandez.
"We have pediatrics, we have medical, we have OB-GYN. We have a lot of other speciality units here. So we will be able to accommodate a lot more people that we did than when we were at the old site," says nurse Michelle Henry.
Half of the $26 million project comes in low-cost loans from the non-profit Primary Care Development Corporation. The other half comes via state funding, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in kick-start money and support from big companies like GE.
The expansion is significant because at least three hospitals in the area are close to financial collapse, along with several others that have come under major fire for bad management.
Many community leaders and health officials say expanding access to primary care could be a big solution to growing concerns about threats to health care here.
"Certainly we need hospitals. We need places to go when people are sick, but this is what will keep us out of the hospital in the first place," said Dr. Nirav Shah, the state health commissioner.
In terms of fixing ailing hospitals, the state health commissioner points to $450 million in new state grants that may allow some to merge or reconfigure services in other ways by the end of the year or in early 2013.