Filed Under:  Health & Wellness, Local, News

South Broad Community Clinic opening soon

11th November 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Fritz Esker
Contributing Writer

Residents in several underserved New Orleans neighborhoods will receive improved health care when the South Broad Community Clinic opens at 3300 South Broad Street in early 2014.

A 2007 needs assessment survey discovered that over 50 percent of residents of central New Orleans used emergency rooms as their primary source of medical care. Many economically disadvantaged residents are uninsured, so they do not have a primary care doctor and often only addressed health problems when they became an emergency.

“What is horrifying is that this community (of about 14,000) die from chronic diseases at a rate two to four times higher than the national average because they are not getting routine maintenance and educated on their conditions,” said Dr. Eric Griggs, a member of the South Broad Community Heath Board.

The clinic is located at the corner of South Broad Street and Washington Avenue, one of the major bus corridors in the city. Residents of more than five New Orleans neighborhoods, including Gert Town, Zion City, Broadmoor, Freret/Milan, and the Hoffman Triangle will be able to get basic checkups, preventive healthcare, and educational classes.

The classes will cover a variety of topics ranging from diabetes prevention to healthy diet tips to stress reduction and yoga. While many people try to use the Internet as a self-educational resource, it can get overwhelming trying to separate worthwhile information from junk. These classes will allow residents to learn more about basic health issues and empower them to take better care of their health.

The South Broad Community Heath Board partnered with local developer Green Coast Enterprises in securing $8.7 million in public and private funding to revitalize the neighborhood. The clinic will serve as the linchpin of the project. Because of a tax credit arrangement, the board and the represented neighborhoods will own the clinic after seven years.

Will Bradshaw, president of Green Coast Enterprises, said that strong health care institutions are a necessary part of the neighborhood’s recovery. The clinic is part of a four-building re­novation project, totaling 28,000 square feet. The other buildings will feature a combination of office, restaurant and retail space. Aside from providing valuable services to the community, Bradshaw hopes the revitalization will inspire more people to invest in the neighborhood.

“It’s really started to breathe life into that whole area,” Bradshaw said. “It’s changing the face of that neighborhood for the better.”

To introduce New Orleanians to the new building, the board hosted a sneak peek and fundraiser for the clinic on Thursday, November 7. The event, sponsored by Magnolia Physical Therapy, was open to the public and featured tours, a silent auction, a naming rights auction, food, and refreshments.

The clinic’s building was finished two months ago, but negotiations are still in progress to secure a provider. The building is currently occupied by the Birthmark Doula Collective, a group of trained doulas who provide support and advocacy for pregnant women and new mothers. Beth Winkler-Schmit, president of the South Broad Community Health Board, says she hopes the partnership will continue even after the clinic opens.

“Considering that Louisiana ranks second in pre-term births and has a 40 percent Caesarean-section rate, Birthmark will be a great partner,” Dr. Griggs said. “Studies show that doula services can dramatically lower the C-section rate and improve birth outcomes.”

Upon opening, the clinic will have one primary care doctor, a number Winkler-Schmit hopes to see expand to two to three. In addition, the clinic hopes to be able to provide pediatric care to the neighborhood’s children. The board is proud of the end result of the journey that began with the 2007 survey.

“It (the clinic) will save so many lives,” Winkler-Schmit said. “It’s been a long process, but definitely well worth it.”

This article originally published in the November 11, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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