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Breaking Down Walls to Better Health Care: SEHWC Center Wall Breaking Ceremony

New comprehensive health and wellness services will soon be available to residents of Southeast Travis County. Central Health commemorated the start of renovation of the Southeast Health & Wellness Center (SEHWC) with a wall-breaking ceremony on Saturday, March 1.

Members of Central Health’s Board of Managers and management, community stakeholders, elected officials, and members of the community at large participated in the ceremony, which included a ceremonial wall breaking at the site of the new flagship facility, formerly the Veterans Administration Austin Outpatient Clinic.

During the event, Central Health and Community Care Collaborative (CCC) representatives discussed how this health and wellness center will improve access to quality health care in the Austin area. Architects from O’Connell Robertson presented the center’s design.

The event culminated with the recognition of the numerous residents of the Dove Springs and Montopolis neighborhoods, as well as members of the other community organizations involved in the project. The success of the SEHWC would not be possible without the ongoing support and collaboration of these community organizations, including: Austin Interfaith, Alliance of African American Health in Central Texas, Latino Health Care Forum, Montopolis Neighborhood Association, Southeast Austin, League Of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and the Dove Springs Neighborhood Association.

“The Southeast Health & Wellness Center embodies so much of what Central Health is working to accomplish in our community. We were able to listen to the residents, develop solid, factual data to support their needs, and develop a comprehensive plan that is creating something truly unique, innovative, and for the community,” said Central Health Board Chairperson Brenda Coleman-Beattie. “I and all of the Board of Managers are very proud of the work that has gone into the Southeast Health and Wellness Center and can’t wait to see the doors open to the community for the first time.”

Central Health purchased the former Veterans Administration Austin Outpatient Clinic in 2011 and incorporated extensive community engagement and outreach into the planning and programming for the new health center. Phase I of the SEHWC is scheduled to open in October of this year, initially offering primary care, a dental clinic, specialty care, behavioral health care, radiology, a laboratory, and a pharmacy, as well as community meeting space. Phase II of the project, expected to open in 2015, will potentially include health screenings, eligibility and enrollment services for health care coverage programs, and exercise classes, among other services to promote wellness and prevention. More information about the ongoing development of the facility will be released over the coming months.

Central Health’s affiliate CommUnityCare, a Federally Qualified Health Center, will operate the facility and provide primary care services. Additional partners will be incorporated as Phase II services are brought online. The 70,000-square foot SEHWC will provide these services to a community that as of 2012 had approximately 460,000 residents, and which is expected to expand nearly 13 percent to around 520,000 within the next three years. The rapidly growing Southeast Travis County population is comprised of mostly young, Hispanic, medically underserved individuals and families who represent the population served by Central Health.

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