Philadelphia Department of Public Health officials on Wednesday, June 12, cut the ribbon on a new pediatric suite at Health Center 10, the Northeast’s only community health center and the busiest city-run clinic.
Officials hope the $500,000-plus project will allow the doctors at Health Center 10, 2320 Cottman Ave., to see additional children in a more timely manner.
The building’s basement was converted from meeting space into eight pediatric exam rooms, which opened last week to patients. Previously, the center had six rooms dedicated to treating children.
“This building is overloaded,” Health Commissioner Tom Farley said. “We see 67,000 patient visits over the course of the year, and because of that, it is difficult for people to get in. It’s a long wait.”
Even as representatives from the Health Department were setting up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, patients packed into waiting rooms and waited in line to register.
One reason for the crowds: Some neighborhoods in the Northeast are designated as primary care deserts. Another: Out of eight city-run clinics and 46 federally qualified community health centers in Philadelphia, Health Center 10 is the only one in the Northeast.
Farley referenced an October report released by the Health Department that showed that certain neighborhoods — including parts of Lawncrest, Castor Gardens, Oxford Circle, Wissinoming, Tacony and Frankford — are short on doctors.
“We have requested and challenged other health systems to develop facilities and provide care in this neighborhood,” he said.
Mayor Jim Kenney in his budget address in March said the city would be opening a new health center in the Lower Northeast. The clinics accept people regardless of insurance, ability to pay and immigration status.
“We’re committed to doing it,” Farley told the Northeast Times. “It’s going to happen.”
Currently, the Health Department is searching for a site for the new center, Farley said.
“That’s going to take some time, and, in the meantime, we are maximizing what we have,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to use every square inch of the space of this building well.”
Health Department representatives said to expect continued renovation projects at Health Center 10 to add more exam rooms and other amenities. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org