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North Quincy health care center ready to expand

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  June 30, 2011 03:11 PM

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Dancers from the Wah Lum Kung Fu School in Malden MA do a celebratory dance in front of the groundbreaking at the site for the new South Cove Community Health Center expansion.

When Dr. Stephen Tang joined South Cove Community Health Center in the 70s, he did so with a hope – to bring quality, affordable, healthcare to those in the community that were underserved.

Now, 40 years later, the center is servicing more in the community than ever before.

To keep up with the demand, the facility will building an $8 million development adjacent to the current building - a 21,000 square foot, 3.5-story expansion that represents the growth of what used to be a small local healthcare practice in North Quincy.

Tang, the President for the SCCHC Board of Directors, stood amongst dozens of SCCHC employees and numerous local politicians as he gestured to the parking lot where the new building would stand a year from now.

Despite the growth, the mission of the community had not changed.

“Although we’ve outgrown the space, we’re continuing the mission we started since the beginning…decent, good, affordable health care,” he said.

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Mayor Thomas Koch addresses those that came for the groundbreaking.

It isn’t surprising that the demand for services has grown for the center, which primarily focuses on servicing the Asian community.

According to census data for 2010, Asians account for 24% of the total population in Quincy, compared with only 5.3% across the state of Massachusetts.

In addition to using the first floor of the Hancock Street lofts, the new building will bring eight pediatric exam rooms, four behavioral health consultation rooms, five dental operatories and one optometry suite into the practice.

The third floor will either be reserved for future development, used as conference space, or leased to a 3rd party.

Dozens turned out for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility on Thursday, anxious to see shovels in the ground in what has already been a two-year project to add on to the single-floor center.

According to Julie Chou with the Development Department of SSCHC, the expansion of the North Quincy facility will hopefully bring even more than the current 11,000 patients in for health care, and will also increase the quality of services.

Many at the groundbreaking agreed that the expansion would be an asset for the community, which has long since flailed amongst abandoned buildings and aging structures.

“This is a community project. It will create jobs, it will clean up an area that is undergoing a renovation,” said Planning Director Dennis Herrington. “This will take us a long way to undergoing the goal [to clean up North Quincy].”

“It should hopefully bring new life to the center here,” agreed Eugene Welch, Executive Director for SCCHC.

Ward Six Councilor Brian McNamee, who was instrumental in helping the facility obtain parcels of land for the project to build on, said South Cove had helped transform the area as is. The expansion would only add on to that.

“A few years ago…it was uncertain if this neighborhood would be revitalized. Once the lofts came in, it changed to a residential usage, and South Cove purchased three condos on the first floor. It spelled, for the first time, change for the community,” McNamee said.

Not only will the expansion transform the area physically, but the addition of more affordable health care will be a win/win for the city.

The expansion will also mean the addition of 15-20 jobs for community members.

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