Mattapan hails its new health center, anchor for Square

By 
Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Sep. 17, 2010

Sept. 10, 2010 parade celebrates new health center plansSept. 10, 2010 parade celebrates new health center plans

Governor Deval Patrick, Mayor Tom Menino and city and state lawmakers joined scores of Mattapan residents in the groundbreaking of the Mattapan Community Health Center’s (MCHC) state-of-the-art facility last Friday. The site of the new $32 million Community Center will be at 1575 Blue Hill Ave, the current site of the Citizens Bank branch in Mattapan Square.

“Change is coming to Mattapan,” said Dr. Azzie Young, the president and CEO of the health center. Emotions ran high and eventually Young was forcing back tears as she carried out thanks to the many people who made the day possible. Several attendees considered the new health center to be the start of a new wave of change for the community.

The groundbreaking was nothing short of a festival, accompanied by a Mardi Gras-style parade and the “Taste of Mattapan,” a smorgasbord of foods from Mattapan restaurants. The day itself was the highlight of the Mattapan Health Center Week, a string of healthcare-related activities.

The new center is planned to cover 5000 sq. feet and span four stories. In a new development, Citizens Bank and CVS pharmacy were announced as the storefront tenants, on the ground floor of the new building, finally bringing a pharmacy within the limits of Mattapan in nearly 30 years.

“[The new health center] is a sign of the confidence we all have in this community, and the importance of investing in this community,” said Governor Patrick, who was credited with playing a key role in bringing federal funds to bear to help finance the project. A sizable chunk of $11.5 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds was provided to cover the cost of the new center.

Governor Patrick has been working behind-the-scenes to lobby for the funds and visited the center in December of 2009 to celebrate the receipt of the stimulus funds, which were a part of $80 million awarded to the state for healthcare purposes. The rest of the funding was raised by several private grants, tax equity and New Market tax credits, and more than $9 million raised by MCHC through philanthropy.

“This is the start of revitalization for our community,” said Mattapan resident Mary Burkes. “We have been asking for a pharmacy for the last 12 years. It’s been ages since there’s been a drug store here.”
MCHC officials estimate that the new facility will double the service capacity for the health center, adding 9 new examination rooms, new laboratory areas, and several community gathering spaces in the three stories above. The health center will also expand its nutrition and dental wings, at the new facility and prominently will include brand new mammography facilities. The new building will also be trying for a Leadership through Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification, and will include a green roof and sustainable building materials.

The new facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2011. The new center will also create some 90 new permanent jobs, not to mention the 100 temporary jobs during construction.