Check up: EBNHC receives go-ahead from the BRA

The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is one step closer to making its ambitious plan to construct a brand new state-of-the-art health facility in Maverick Square a reality.

Last week the EBNHC and its project team received Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approval to raze an existing service station building on the proposed site between Store 24 and Eddie C’s and construct a new clinical/office building containing approximately 49,000 square feet of floor area on four levels.

The $20 million project will include facilities for clinical, office and administration and will contain related retail space at the ground level.

The Proposed Project is the cornerstone of EBNHC’s “Breaking New Ground for a Healthy Community” initiative, which will allow the health center to grow to $20 million dollars in revenue and create more than 200 health-care jobs over the next five years.

The proposed LEED-certified facility will be located across from the MBTA’s Maverick Station and will improve operational efficiency and financial sustainability as EBNHC shifts operations from three leases, saving over $400,000 annually and better directing funds toward patient care.

“Expanded hours and new providers in clinics with thirty-one new exam rooms will enable EBNHC to meet immediate needs,” said EBNHC President Jack Cradock. “The new facility will provide improved patient flow, a welcoming environment, and an easily accessible location. Well-designed Primary Care, Vision and Dental clinics and modern equipment will give clinical teams the tools needed to improve health services and outcomes.”

Cradock added that the expansion combined with significant experience with vulnerable populations will provide the served communities with a medical home and enable EBNHC to effectively improve overall health and lower the incidence of chronic disease, a major concern for the service population.

“The Proposed Project is expected to create more than 90 construction-related jobs for more than 175 individual workers during the 2-year construction phase, as well as 48 long-term health care positions,” he said. “Also, expanding EBNHC’s Education and Training Institute, which provides workforce development to the community, will increase the ability to help those who would otherwise not qualify for health-care jobs.”

It was announced in December that President Barack Obama had chosen the EBNHC as the recipient of $12 million in stimulus money to build a brand new facility in Maverick Square.

Cradock and EBNHC’s Vice President Manny Lopes were then invited down to Washington D.C. to attend a White House ceremony as the stimulus money funds for the health center were announced.

“This was the last round of federal stimulus money,” said Cradock. “And out of 600 application only 85 projects were chosen and out of those 85 projects the Health Center received the most money.”

To get the money into East Boston, there was some heavily lobbying from the Health Center to Senator Anthony Petruccelli who worked with Governor Deval Patrick, a friend of President Obama, and Congressman Michael Capuano. While the EBNHC’s proposal was chosen on merit and was considered one of the best among the field of proposals, the little political push didn’t hurt.

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