South Philadelphia Health and Literacy Center: Special Synergy

South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center Provides Neighbors Unique Opportunities

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Community Impact Report

The Castro Family in the Free Library of Philadelphia The Castro family — Raul Sr., Veronica, Raul Jr., 13, and Elizabeth, 11 — relax in the Free Library of Philadelphia branch located on the first floor. When Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was exploring a bigger location for the CHOP Care Network South Philadelphia primary care practice, it wasn’t content to be in the community. It wanted to be part of the community.

The result is the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center, a first-of-its-kind facility that houses the pediatric primary care practice plus Philadelphia Health Center 2, a branch of the Philadelphia Free Library and the DiSilvestro Recreation Center.

Building the facility required collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, the Free Library of Philadelphia and families in the neighborhood. The new 96,000-square-foot, three-story structure, built by Perryman Building and Construction, a Philadelphia-based minority-owned business, sits on the site that had previously housed the three non-CHOP entities. The Hospital worked to build trust with those in that community.

Building trust

“We held a series of town meetings for people in the community to learn about the project and build trust," says Doug Carney, Senior Vice President, Facilities, Real Estate and Construction Management. “The more we explained and showed the plans, the more excited they became.”

The excitement grew once the facility opened in spring 2016 and everyone not only saw the spectacular building but also experienced the transformative park next to the recreation center, which quickly became a gathering place for families.

“This is what the future is — all of us working together to help our children’s lives be better,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said at the grand opening.

As the four partners have settled in, they have worked to make the most of the unique synergy the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center provides.

Integrative resources

Patients from CHOP and Health Center 2 will receive “prescriptions for health” that draw upon the resources at hand. For a child who is obese or an adult with diabetes, for example, the prescriptions may include researching healthy recipes on a library computer or checking out organized fitness activities at the rec center.

Health fairs are planned that combine information from the library, advice from pediatric and adult healthcare providers, and activities from the rec center. To reach neighborhood teens, a Barra Foundation grant enabled CHOP to hire an adolescent health outreach coordinator to work with all four entities at the center to engage with youth served by them. For example, the coordinator might set up a table by the basketball court and offer information on family planning and rapid tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Just as the facility design included feedback from neighbors, programming will be responsive to community needs. Opportunities are limitless.

“By way of a public-private partnership, a project of this scope is unprecedented in Philadelphia,” says Peter Grollman, CHOP’s Senior Vice President, External Affairs. “Integrating health, literacy and wellness will do remarkable things for families.”

Meeting neighbors' needs

On-site services include:

  • 31 bilingual staff (Spanish, Mandarin or Vietnamese)
  • Asthma specialist
  • Care coordination for complex patients
  • Financial/health insurance counselor
  • Psychology services
  • Intimate partner violence counseling
  • 50 same-day appointments

Next Steps