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May 08, 2016

CHOP, Philadelphia launch trailblazing Community Health and Literacy Center

Public-Private collaboration will serve as national model for integrating health and community services

CHOP Literacy
050816_CHOPPHLCommunityLiteracyCtr Source /VSBA Architects and Planners

The Community Health and Literacy Center extends from Broad Street to 15th Street and from Morris Street to Castle Avenue.

After nearly four years in the making, the City of Philadelphia and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have launched their landmark $42.5 million Community Health and Literacy Center in South Philadelphia.

The first-of-its-kind venture, touted as a national model for public-private collaboration, will provide healthcare, literacy and recreational services to an estimated 50,000 patients each year. Housed in a 96,000-square-foot facility on Broad and Morris streets, the new hub combines services from CHOP's pediatric primary care center, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center.

"Today we celebrate a breakthrough – a very special center that is designed to meet the specific needs of families in this community, now and long into the future," said Madeline Bell, president and CEO of CHOP. "The South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center will provide children and adults not only comprehensive health and wellness services, but also a full range of literacy and recreational programming – all under one roof. It is the country's first example of this unique type of public-private partnership. CHOP thanks our own innovative thinkers and those from the City of Philadelphia and the Free Library of Philadelphia for their vision and determination to make this project a reality."

The catalyst for the partnership came in 2012 when CHOP found that its neighborhood clinic in South Philadelphia had outgrown its space. Faced with a densely populated district and other barriers to new construction, the nationally acclaimed hospital approached the City of Philadelphia about integrating multiple educational and health entities at a central location. 

Over the next few years, an intensive planning phase, led by key stakeholders from more than seven city agencies, resulted in a the design of an energy-efficient building with ample outdoor space and easy access to public transportation.

NoneSource/VSBA Architects and Planners

DiSilvestro Playground.

"This Center will deliver value beyond the sum of its parts, providing access to services that promote healthy living for families and individuals throughout this community," said former CHOP CEO Steven M. Altschuler at a groundbreaking in September 2014. "It is the first time that a city and hospital have come together in the management of population health in ways never envisioned before.”

Here's a breakdown of the services now available at the Community Health and Literacy Center:

• CHOP's pediatric health clinic, one of the hospital's fastest growing primary care practices, will be located in 22,000 square feet of space (an addition of 6,200 square feet over the previous location) including six new exam rooms and a roomy waiting area with a dedicated station for reading and computer use by patients and their families.

• The relocated Health Center 2, one of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health's busiest facilities, will offer both adult and pediatric care. Women's health services will include gynecology, prenatal care, family planning, and mammography. It will also provide a pediatric clinic and dental care in 29,000 square feet of total space.

• The DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center, originally built in 1961, now doubles in size. State-of-the-art construction materials form a renovated playground with substantial green space and a rain garden, while existing youth programs in science, art and music are coupled with additional classes, a basketball court, and new outdoor community events in partnership with the Library.

• The South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library, outfitted with the latest educational technology, now adds another full day of operation in 12,000 square feet of space. On top of previous programming for adults and children, the Library will include a Consumer Health Resource Center, a new computer lab with a dedicated Makerspace, a 3-D printer and supplies, new literacy training, and a site for career development and guidance.

Financing for the Community Health and Literacy Center was led mainly by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, with $9.8 million in equity provided by the federal New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) program. CHOP has committed to repaying $30.5 million in NMTC loans from its general revenue. 

The City of Philadelphia, which is leasing the 1.59-acre site at a nominal fee, kicked in $2.2 million for construction costs and the Free Library of Philadelphia contributed another $1.3 million. A detailed review of funding for the project can be found here

The overarching goal of the Community Health and Literacy Center is to centrally engage the social determinants of health, from economic stability and education to outdoor pursuits and community partnerships.

"Opportunities for integrated programming will offer the ability for these four services to cross-pollinate so that children, individuals and families can receive one-stop comprehensive care and access to community-based programming and services," reads a case study on the project, published by the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. 

NoneSource/VSBA Architects

Rendering of renovated South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library.

"Without this collaboration, we're paying a pound of cure for a thing that an ounce of prevention would address," added Joshua Simon, Executive Director of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, in a video about the challenges leaders faced in executing the partnership. The video, produced by the Build Healthy Places Network, can be viewed below. 



"I'm glad to officially welcome the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center into our community," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. "This new state-of-the-art, eco-friendly facility represents the partnership of private and public collaborating to provide accessible community services."

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