Multi-Million Dollar Health Center Enters New Phase of Development
Targeting the communities surrounding Pioneer Drive, the Severn Health and Wellness Center project seeks to provide much needed health care and community-centered facilities.
A 10.6-acre piece of land adjacent to Van Bokkelen Elementary School is closer to becoming a multi-million dollar Health and Wellness Center thanks to the efforts and partnership of Anne Arundel County and People's Community Health Centers, Inc (PHCHI).
After meeting the Board of Education's request of producing a feasibility study, the county and PCHCI are free to conduct the next phase of the project, including rezoning, development strategies and funding.
The projected 10,000-square-foot Federally Qualified Health Center will provide health preventative services and chronic disease management, according to the partner's project overview.
Barring complications, the center will be strategically placed off of Reece Road, across from Pioneer Drive.
A Place of Need
"The Severn area has been a targeted neighborhood for at least the last 20 years," said Executive Director of Arundel Community Development Services Kathleen Koch. "It has always been apparent that there is a need for a facility where services can be provided."
According to the 2000 Census, the Severn zip code area population is made up of more minority households and more female-headed households than the rest of the county as a whole, with approximately 10.4 percent of all families with children under 18 living in poverty.
"The county doesn't run community buildings for specific neighborhoods, so there wasn't a source of funds or an agency to run such a facility," said Koch. "But it's continued to be something that the community has cried for."
Spring Meadows, Still Meadows, and the Orchards is a neighborhood area that meets the statistics needed to request a federally qualified health center, and PCHCI began working early on with the county's health department to provide services, said Koch.
A Multi-Faceted Facility
While meeting health care needs, the county hopes to use the project as an opportunity to provide community services such as job training and youth activities. A 1,000-square-foot facility will be included for mental health support groups, wellness classes, and an urgent-care facility to divert patients from the emergency department at Baltimore Washington Center, providing significant health care savings for the local citizens.
A gymnasium, arts and crafts area, and a teen center are also supposed to exist within a 15,000-square-foot section of the property. A demonstration kitchen, complimented by an outdoor garden is also in the proposal.
When asked about the greatest obstacles preventing the development of this highly needed facility, Koch said, "finding the money to make it happen."
It's All About Dollars and Cents
Now that the feasibility study has been completed, $200,000 has been allocated for the next phase of the project. The state committed $250,000 in bond funds, and $1.08 million in private funds have been pledged.
"The fact that it's designated as a federally qualified area opens up opportunities for financing in our effort to try and make this happen," Koch.
However, much is still yet to be received, with $1.6 million pending in Department of Health and Mental Hygiene capital funds and $500,000 in federal Health and Human Services appropriations, according to the project overview. The development team also plans to apply for $1 million in locally administered Community Development Block Grants, a government program designed to aid in such endeavors.
The county remains involved in the project, but it's PHCHI's responsibility to raise the funding, said Koch.
Many Steps Still Yet to Occur
Even after the money is generated, it still could be some time before the targeted areas receive innovative facilities.
A development timetable is necessary to then prompt the Board of Education, current owners of the land, to declare it a surplus, placing the property under the county's ownership. Rezoning plans, financing, site development, each is necessary for the process, said Koch.
The goal is to reach this phase by August or September of 2011.
Once the land is given to the county, it must undergo a similar process before it's declared a surplus by the County Council. Only then will it be given to PHCHI.
"If we do come up with the money by 2011 and everything is happening simultaneously, we'll begin preparing a plan for specifications which takes about 15 months," said Koch.
January 2013 is the desired goal for construction, but everything hinges on finding the money, said Koch.
"This is a really unique opportunity," said Koch. "It'll be pretty exciting if we can pull it off together and really provide some services that are desperately needed over in that community."