CHOP Expands: New Community Health and Literacy Center to be Opened in December 2015

Maria Johansson, for GPA -- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is expanding.

The hospital was founded in 1855 as the first children’s hospital in the United States and has maintained a prominent position within research and care for children ever since. This year, CHOP has partnered up with the City of Philadelphia to build a new facility on Broad and Morris Streets in South Philadelphia. The new complex will be a community health and literacy center to be located at 1720 South Broad St., replacing and expanding on already existing facilities in the area. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on September 18 and the center is expected to open by December 2015.

This addition comes as CHOP is undertaking a number of construction projects. For instance, satellite offices are being constructed in King of Prussia and Princeton, adding to CHOP’s 50 locations throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, the project in South Philadelphia is unique in that it is a partnership between CHOP and the City of Philadelphia. This type of partnership is rare and in a recent press release Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter referred to it as a “pioneering example of how government can work with private institutions to better serve all citizens.”

The new health and literacy center will take a holistic approach, offering sick care as well as preventional resources. In addition to constructing the new and larger facilities for the CHOP Care Network Primary Care of South Philadelphia, it will also include an expansion and modernization of the already established Health Center 2, which has served the South Philly area for over 40 years. In fact, Health Center 2 is one of the busiest health centers in Philadelphia, with an estimated 50,000 visits annually. Within the new space, Health Center 2 will be given more room for its adult and pediatric care units as well as dental operatory rooms and state of the art radiology and mammography services.

Also already located in the area is the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center, which will be included in the new health and literacy center. The original DiSilvestro playground was built in 1961 and with the new improvements coming its way it will now become a safer place for children to play using state-of-the-art construction materials.

This face-lift will also apply to the South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library, which is a branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The library will move into the 21st century, with the equipment and media to match. As for the preventive resources that the health and literacy center will offer, some can be found in the library. There, a consumer health resource center will be created, which will give the public access to a new computer lab, 3-D printers, literacy programming and career development computer education.

The total cost of this project is estimated at $42.5 million. The property will be leased to CHOP by the city for a nominal fee and the city is also investing $2.2 million in the project. The remainder of the funds have been obtained through hospital revenue and a number of philanthropic sources.

As Steven M. Altschuler, MD and Chief Executive Officer of CHOP, was quoted as saying in the press release, “I can think of no better partner than the City of Philadelphia to work with on this project.”

Photo courtesy of SJU.