CHOP and the City of Philadelphia Break Ground on Health and Literacy Center

The first of its kind, Center to offer children and families in South Philadelphia integrated healthcare, literacy and recreation services in one location

Published on in CHOP News

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and City officials hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking on Sept. 18 to announce the Community Health and Literacy Center, a CHOP-City partnership that will provide healthcare, literacy and recreational services in one location for children and families in South Philadelphia. This “first of its kind” project will serve as a national model for public-private collaboration.

When completed, the Community Health and Literacy Center will have four fully integrated components:

  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network, Primary Care, South Philadelphia
  • The City of Philadelphia’s Health Center 2
  • The Free Library’s South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library
  • The DiSilvestro Recreation Center.

These four community services will be housed together as a one-stop facility for children and families to enhance their health, literacy and well-being, presenting opportunities for integrated programming.

“The multi-purpose facility that will stand on this site represents CHOP’s commitment to finding new and innovative ways to improve the health and well-being of children,” said Steven M. Altschuler, MD, chief executive office of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “I can think of no better partner than the City of Philadelphia to work with on this project. This Center will deliver value beyond the sum of its parts, providing access to services that promote healthy living for families and individuals throughout this community. It is the first time that a city and hospital have come together in the management of population health in ways never envisioned before.”

CHOP breaking ground for literacy center“We are pleased to partner with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the nation’s top children’s hospital, to provide this remarkable resource for children and adults in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “No other city has ever done anything like this — it is the first of its kind in the United States. This partnership is as unique as this community, and will serve as a model for other cities.”

This unique public-private effort originated as a solution to the health, educational and recreational needs of the community. CHOP was seeking to expand its burgeoning South Philadelphia primary care office and the City wanted to renovate Health Center 2, the Library and Recreation Center. Under the agreement, the City will provide a lease on the site at a nominal fee to CHOP along with $2.2 million to support construction. CHOP will develop the land, which includes the construction of a 96,000 square-foot facility and outdoor space, at a total cost of $42.5 million. The CHOP portion of the funding comes from several sources, including: generous support from CHOP donors, hospital operating revenue, and New Market Tax Credits provided through the Chase Community Equity LLC, Chase New Markets Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), City First Bank of D.C., and Commonwealth Cornerstone Group, Ltd.

The Community Health and Literacy Center will be located on the city block bordered by South Broad Street, South 15th Street, Morris Avenue, and Castle Avenue. The 1.59 acres of land will consist of a 3-story building on the eastern side, and a new playground on the western side. The CHOP Care Network, Primary Care, South Philadelphia office will re-locate from nearby St. Agnes Hospital to the third floor of this facility. The City of Philadelphia’s Health Center 2 will be housed on the second floor. The first floor of the new building will be dedicated to the Library, Recreation Center, lobby area and covered parking.

About each service

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Care Network, Primary Care, South Philadelphia is one of CHOP’s fastest-growing primary care practices in Philadelphia with more than 31,000 patient visits annually. The new facility will provide expanded space and equipment, enhancing the patient and family experience. The new 22,000 square foot space will provide an additional 6200 square feet compared to the previous location, and will accommodate six additional exam rooms and a large, inviting waiting area with dedicated space for reading and computer use by patients and families while they wait.

Health Center 2 is one of the busiest health centers in the network of health centers operated by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, proudly serving the residents of South Philadelphia for over 40 years. Prior to moving to its temporary location at the former St. Agnes Hospital to allow construction of this wonderful new facility at Broad & Morris Streets, Health Center 2 provided close to 50,000 patient visits annually. Health Center 2 offers Adult and Pediatric care, women's healthcare including gynecology, family planning and prenatal care, as well as dental care. The new 29,500 square foot space will include additional exam rooms along with an additional dental operatory and state of the art radiology and mammography services.

Built in 1961, the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center was a small 1600 square-foot center with outdated equipment and a hard surface play area. The Recreation Center offered 11 youth-oriented programs throughout the year such as computer science, art, and music. With the new construction, the playground area will be renovated utilizing state-of-the-art construction materials to create a soft, smooth surface. The playground will feature substantial green space and a rain garden. The Recreation Center will double in size, greatly expanding existing programming in both offerings and frequency. New programming will take advantage of the renovated outdoor space by offering story time in the green space in partnership with the Library, and other outdoor events such as community movie nights.

The South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library is a haven for learning, social interaction and cultural activities, all located within a safe space. The South Philadelphia Library will be one of the Free Library’s new 21st Century libraries designed for the evolving way media is consumed. The new facility, which will include an additional day of operation and expanded programming, is expected to draw an additional 35,000 customers annually. The Library will receive the latest technology and a new collection when it reopens thanks to a generous gift from the William Penn Foundation. In addition to programming previously offered for both children and adults, the Library will feature a Consumer Health Resource Center, dedicated Makerspace for consumers to embark on creative activities with access to a new computer lab, 3-D printer and supplies, additional literacy programming, and career development computer education.