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Mattapan Community Health Center rocks the boat for new medical home

3/22/2011, 9:01 p.m.
It is out with the old to make way for the new as demolition of buildings is now underway at 1575 Blue Hill Ave. in Mattapan Square. This is where the new Mattapan Community Health Center facility is slated to be built over the next 15 months, opening in the spring of 2012. Mattapan Community Health Center

Dr. Azzie Young, president and CEO of the Mattapan Community Health Center (MCHC), points to six reasons why the center’s plan for a new $32 million health facility is so vital to the community it serves: a high incidence of vitamin D deficiency, hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and asthma. Many of the 7,000-plus people who receive care there annually — not counting those with multiple visits  — are suffering from these ailments.

These patients can look forward to coming to a modern center to be located at 1575 Blue Hill Ave. in Mattapan Square. The 50,000 square foot facility will have greater capacity to serve their needs in the spring of 2012 when construction is due for completion. Further, as Mattapan’s largest employer, MCHC will add some 200 construction and permanent jobs, thus lifting the neighborhood’s economy and serving as an important player in Mattapan Square’s Main Streets business district.

Young said, “We are excited that the new state of the art facility is a step closer to reality with the demolition of existing buildings on the site. And we are so thankful for contributions from hundreds of donors both large and small. Thanks to their generosity, we will be able to double the medical and dental exam rooms, greatly expand services in children’s and women’s health (including on-site mammography) and new services in behavioral and mental health.”

The new health center facility —  the first new building of this size to be constructed in Mattapan Square in over a half century — will also bring a new pharmacy to Mattapan Square for the first time in more than 30 years.

The final stretch of fundraising

Even though some $30 million dollars has been raised so far, Young notes that help is still needed. “We have received a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the Kresge Foundation which requires us to complete our $12 million fundraising campaign by December 31, 2011 — and we still have more than $1,000,000 to go.” Aside from Kresge, funding for the $32 million project is coming from the following sources: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), New Markets Tax Credit Equity, loans and philanthropic support.

The 15th annual MCHC “Rock The Boat” fundraiser on April 30 at the Renaissance Hotel on Boston’s waterfront holds a special urgency this year. Co-chairs include Susan Donahue of the Boston Medical Center Board, Andrew Dreyfus of Blue Cross Blue Shield and John Fish of Suffolk Construction. The honoree is Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center.

In addition, to support fundraising, MCHC has formed a Campaign Steering Committee representing a diverse group including board members and community leaders, major donors, representatives of key institutional partners (including Boston Medical Center and Partners HealthCare) and friends of MCHC. This group has continued to meet regularly throughout the planning process and during the Public Phase of the Campaign that began in April 2010. Committee members Denise and Bill Finard are new supporters of the Center, but have embraced Mattapan’s plans enthusiastically.