The city’s largest and most diverse neighborhood is set to receive an uptick in healthcare, with the Boston Planning and Development Agency moving forward with a revamped Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center.
The BPDA Board of Directors last week unanimously approved the center relocating to three scarcely used lots next to its existing headquarters on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester. The revamped facility will create a 10 to 15% increase in staffing positions from the current employee count of 100-plus, according to project documents.
HSNHC, an independent nonprofit, has operated out of 632 Blue Hill Ave., since 1976. Meeting the demand for services from residents in Dorchester and the surrounding area has been difficult as the building dates back to the early 1900s, officials say.
“That building is getting very old and inefficient,” HSNHC President and CEO Charley Murphy said before the BPDA board greenlighted the project on Thursday. “The new building will allow us to house all of our programs under one roof … which is much more efficient. This will allow us to grow our patient count given the increased capacity as well as the increased staff count.”
Project documents do not provide how much the project will cost and when construction will begin and end on the adjoining Ellington Street and Old Road lots, close to Franklin Park. The mayor’s press office did not respond to a Herald inquiry Saturday seeking those details.
The Zoning Board of Appeals also will be voting on the health center before the BPDA continues a design-and-review process, said Eileen Michaud, an agency project manager.
Once all is said and done, HSNHC will be transformed into a three-story, 40-foot-tall facility featuring clinical, laboratory and pharmacy services. There will be space for community events and temporary programming to be held.
Officials are also looking to expand the center’s footprint on Blue Hill Avenue in potential future phases.
Last year, HSNHC provided care to 7,600 patients across more than 35,000 visits, figures provided in project documents highlight. Over 95% of the patients were people of color, and a majority had incomes at or below the poverty line, relying on either Medicare or Medicaid. Some were uninsured.
BPDA board member Brian Miller gave a glowing review of HSNHC.
“The health centers are so critical to our neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s amazing that you’re able to do that work in that old building. This new space looks fantastic.”