The Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) has completed $22.5 million in financing to transform a health center in an underserved New York City neighborhood affected by Hurricane Sandy. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Building America CDE partnered with PCDC on the project, which will bring new space, services, and jobs to an area disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes.
The venture will transform nearly every aspect of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center’s main facility, situated on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens:
- Building expansion: A new 21,000-square-foot addition will double Addabbo’s available space, expanding the existing building that PCDC financed in 2006. At full capacity, Addabbo will be able to host 97,000 visits per year to 18,900 unique patients, of which a quarter will include residents of the nearby New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing complexes.
- A 65 percent increase in visit volume and services: An additional 6,400 patients are anticipated to be served through 32,000 additional visits — a direct result of expanding facilities for medical, mental health, and physical therapy services.
- Job creation and retention: 90 construction jobs and 31 new permanent positions, including eight new providers, will be needed to construct the facility and deliver the expanded services. More than half of these jobs are expected to be filled by area residents.
- Other community impact: A workforce development program will provide on-site job training for medical assistants, clerks, medical billers, and custodians — many of whom Addabbo expects to hire — using the center’s new community space. Created in partnership with the Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation (OBCDC), the program will recruit among the 10,000 residents of the nearby New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing complexes.
“It indeed takes a village, to build a community health center,” said Dr. Marjorie Hill, Addabbo CEO and former New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation provider and administrator. “We are grateful for the generosity, support and guidance from elected officials, corporate supporters, and community partners — all contributed to the building of our dream for expanded heath care access for the underserved of Queens county.”
“For over three decades, the Addabbo Family Health Center has been a life-changing force in our community,” said Betty Leon, Esq., Chair of the Addabbo Board of Directors. “This expansion means we will have an even greater impact. I want to thank the staff, community, and all the elected officials who made this a reality.
Operating six centers in Queens and Brooklyn, Addabbo is headquartered on the Rockaway Peninsula, where it has been Queens’ largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) since opening in 1968.
Primary care services for children and adults include pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and dental as well as HIV prevention and intervention; allergies, nutrition, podiatry, ophthalmology, and social work services; and a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program.
“Addabbo’s importance to its community cannot be overstated,” said Anne Dyjak, PCDC Managing Director. “The care that it provides is both exceptional and essential by any measure, as we’ve witnessed throughout our 17-year partnership with Addabbo. This project will enable Addabbo to care for even more residents of this underserved community.”
The Rockaways present inherent geographical challenges. The nearest alternative for care is five miles away, requiring a 20-minute drive or hour-long commute by public transportation. Exacerbating the matter was Hurricane Sandy, which in 2012 caused widespread flooding and severe damages throughout the area. A companion project is currently underway with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) to strengthen Addabbo’s existing infrastructure, physically and operationally.
Health challenges persisted long before the storm: Local death rates due to preventable diseases — including heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases, and diabetes — are higher than those of Queens and New York City as whole. Alcohol-related hospitalization rates are also the highest in Queens, while the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalization is almost double that of the City overall.
“Addabbo Family Health Center makes a meaningful impact by providing much-needed medical and health care services to those most vulnerable in the community,” said Mary Thompson, Senior Vice President of Community Development Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We provided $5.8 million in new market tax credit equity, along with $10 million in debt from our commercial bank, to help our partners in this project build strong and sustainable communities by supporting the health and well-being local residents in Queens.”
“The Addabbo Family Health Center is a cornerstone of the Rockaway community and this expansion will increase its reach to the local residents who need its services most,” said Eric Price, Chief Executive Officer of Building America.
Project funding included $17 million of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), federal tax credits designed to stimulate investment in low-income communities — $9 million from PCDC and $8 million from Building America, with Bank of America serving as the tax credit investor. PCDC and Bank of America provided an additional $10.6 million of debt to support the project. Since 2000, PCDC has provided $19.5 million to finance the acquisition and development of four of Addabbo’s centers.