west-park-health-center_web.jpgPresident Obama’s stimulus money found its way to a new health clinic in West Park this week, laced with a bright-red ribbon.

The West Park Community Health Center opened its doors on Tuesday, July 28 after receiving $1.5 million in federal stimulus funding.

The 4,300-square-foot center at 5801 Hallandale Beach Blvd. was renovated from an empty shell, and is the third Broward County location of the Hollywood-based Broward Community and Family
Health Centers (BCFHC).

“It’s a private facility, but for the community,” said West Park City Administrator Russell Benford, whose support for the project smoothed the way for its construction. 

With a capacity to serve 50 patients per day, the space contains eight exam rooms, waiting areas, labs and a health information management office.

The center offers comprehensive care, including family medicine, pediatrics, immunizations, HIV/AIDS testing, physical examinations; and diabetes and hypertension management. Its trilingual staff includes doctors, medical assistants, patient advocates and a prescription assistant. 

The program was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by President Barack Obama’s administration in February.

There was a need for the center not only in the City of West Park, but also in the surrounding communities of Miramar, Hallandale Beach and Pembroke Park, said Rosalyn Frazier, CEO of the Broward Community and Family Health Centers.

“All of Broward can access any of our centers,” she said.

“Access to health care, especially in this economy, is really important; something that affects everyone,” Benford said.  “It’s a great thing Rosalyn did, bringing it [the Center] to West Park.”

The center secured a five-year lease with two, five-year renewal options, Frazier said.

The amount of the lease was not disclosed.

The center is the first of its kind not to be named Broward Community Health Center.

“The partnership and support from the city was so strong,” Frazier explained. “They helped us get it together in less than six weeks.”

Frazier also said that when the awarding of stimulus money was confirmed, the original space BCFHC planned to secure was unavailable.

“I called Russell [Benford] right away and we began searching for a space.  We actually started rehabbing on April 17.”

The stimulus funding was for shovel-ready projects only; the center had to be operational within a rigid, 120-day timetable, Frazier said.

Of the $1.5 million received, Frazier said, $1.3 is specifically for the West Park site and is available over a two-year period.  The balance, from the Increase Demand for Services component of the funding, allows the center to retain two positions and support two additional positions at other BCFHC sites.

The city of West Park worked closely with the center throughout the permitting process, Benford said, adding that many of West Park’s residents access the BCFHC facility in Hollywood or at Memorial Regional Hospital, also in Hollywood.

“They [the center] won’t compete with Memorial; it’s more of a complementary relationship.  You can never have too much access to health care,” he said.

Frazier added that West Park’s city inspectors worked collaboratively with the center throughout the renovation process.

“We also had excellent contractors. It was a huge effort,” she said.


Photo: West Park Mayor Eric Jones, right, joins Broward County Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, center, and West Park Commissioner Felicia Brunson, top center, at a July 28 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new health center in the city.