The new Esperanza Health Center in Kensington is expected to benefit the entire neighborhood by expanding access to much needed medical services in a state-of-the-art facility, said Juan Perez, operations director at Esperanza Health Center.
“We may have been one of three in the city that received this grant from the state,” said Perez (pictured below, right). “It’s millions of dollars helping us to renovate the bank building across the street into our new health clinic to provide health services in this neighborhood.”
The $14.5 million project is going to transform a vacant North Philadelphia bank building into a health center. According to Perez, the new 35,000-square-foot health center at 861 E. Allegheny Ave. is expected to open this spring. It will replace Esperanza’s existing 18,000-square-foot health center at 3156 Kensington Ave.
The complex is expected to provide primary medical, dental and behavioral health care in a medically under-served area, said Perez.
“We are looking to have a café on the first floor of the new building that will serve our staff and the community,” said Perez. “We are also going provide a medical dispensary, multi-purpose classrooms and we have some space allocated to possibly partner with other oganizations.”
The existing health center has outgrown its space, Perez said. The new center, when at full capacity, will serve more than 11,000 patients from Kensington and surrounding neighborhoods. It is expected to handle an estimated 44,000 patient visit annually.
“Our goal is to serve the Kensington community,” said Janneza Roane, office manager at the Esperanza Health Center (pictured below, left). “So, we are hoping that with this bigger site we are able to give more access to care for patients.”
The Allegheny health center will retain the 80 full-time employees at Esperanza’s new site and is expected create 22 new full-time positions.
“With expansion we will be hiring more providers, clerical assistants, medical staff, custodial staff and our own security,” said Perez. “We are committed for local contractors to submit their documents to target our construction company. The construction company is looking as much as they can to be able to incorporate local business.”
Perez said this area has been a medically under-served area and that he hopes the new site to be able to help bring excellent health care into a community that doesn’t have easy access.
“The opioid crisis makes it much more evident the need for access to good health care,” said Perez. “And having a more visible presence as a health care center will allow us to be more engaged with what’s happening right outside of this community. We are looking to expand our services to meet the need to address the crisis.”
Perez said Esperanza is financing the project through a combination of state and city grants, tax credits, loans, cash reserves and private donations.
“The new Esperanza Health Center at Kensington and Allegheny will provide this community with the affordable, accessible, and culturally competent health care that no Philadelphian should go without,” said Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez of District 7.
Founded in 1989, Esperanza Health Center handles more than 60,000 patient visits at three different sites throughout the city, according to the center’s website. In addition to its Kensington Avenue location, there are smaller health centers at 2940 N. Fifth St. and 4417 N. Sixth St. in North Philadelphia.
Quiñones-Sánchez also said the city would continue to support the Kensington and Allegheny corridor with investments in safety infrastructure, specifically mentioning a multi-million dollar plan to install LED lighting, fiber-optics and surveillance cameras under the El.