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Recognizing The 11Th Street Family Health Services Center

Sen. Bob Casey

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Mr. President, on January 17, 2012, I visited to the 11th Street Family Health Services Center of Drexel University. The Center is located in north Philadelphia, PA, and provides outpatient health care services to one of the most underserved communities in the city. As we work to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care, the 11th Street Family Health Services Center serves as a model that is both innovative and effective, and I wish to highlight its efforts today.

The Center was born out of a partnership between the College of Nursing at MCP/Hahnemann University, now Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, and the Philadelphia Housing Authority to address the community's health concerns. It began as a Center focused on health promotion and disease prevention, but thanks to the tireless work of community leaders and Dr. Patty Gerrity, it quickly evolved into a comprehensive, nurse-managed, federally qualified health center.

In 1998, the center received a Health Resources and Services Administration grant for over $3 million, which it used to build a state-of-the-art health center that was opened in 2002. That facility and the nurses that manage it now provide primary care, behavioral health, dental health and health and wellness programs to more than 2,500 adult patients annually. In fact, in 2011, the Center provided 30,000 patient visits to a section of Philadelphia that has the highest percentage of unemployed adults, the highest percentage of families living in poverty and the highest rate of diabetes in Philadelphia.

Not only does the Center serve as a creative model to address chronic health issues in underserved communities, it also serves as a great educational tool. As operated by the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, the Center encourages employment in the health care field and provides nursing students with the opportunity to learn, first-hand, the skills needed to work in today's health care industry.

As we move forward with the ongoing fight to ensure that quality and affordable care is accessible to all Americans, I strongly recommend that we learn from and seek to emulate innovative models like the 11th Street Family Health Services Center. It effectively serves our most vulnerable citizens, improves their general health and in doing so reduces the burden on our larger hospitals while decreasing medical costs in the long-term.