The SHHC, which, since its inception in 2006, has had a focus on service to area immigrants and refugees, was selected as the only organization in Western Pennsylvania to receive one of five grant awards totaling more than $3 million in Affordable Care Act funding.
The Jewish community and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation created the SHHC in 2006 to provide high-quality health services to underserved populations. Its current location on Browns Hill Road will continue to operate after the opening of its new Brentwood site, which is required to be servicing patients by Dec. 9.
The SHHC is now in lease negotiations with a Brentwood landlord and is unable to announce the location of the new health center at this time, according to Susan Friedberg Kalson, CEO of the SHHC.
The money coming from the federal grant will fund operation costs of the new site, Kalson said, but does not provide funding for construction and equipment. The SHHC is applying to several foundations for funding to cover those costs.
Brentwood was chosen as the location for the new health center, Kalson said, because thousands of new refugees who are patients of the Center are resettling in South Hills’ suburbs, and Brentwood will be a significantly more accessible location for them.
Many of the refugees — who are Bhutanese, Burmese, Syrian, Congolese and Iraqi — are resettled by the Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh.
“We love sending our clients to the Squirrel Hill Health Center even though it is a very long bus ride,” said Leslie Aizenman, director of refugee and immigrant services at JF&CS. “It can be an hour and a half each way, and it’s two buses.”
Having a health center closer to their homes “probably means better health for them,” Aizenman said. “It will really help them out.”
The JF&CS has settled more than 1,000 refugees in the South Hills’ neighborhoods of Baldwin, Whitehall and Brentwood. Each new refugee begins his or her health care regime at the SHHC because of the high quality of its care as well as its ability to provide language interpreters, Aizenman said.
“The Squirrel Hill Health Center is very accommodating to people with English as a second language,” she said.
Launching the new site in Brentwood is an “expansion of our mission,” Kalson said, adding that by opening the new center, it will double its capacity.
The SHHC is currently in the process of hiring new staff to service its Brentwood location.
While services at the SHHC are not free, it is “required to provide primary and preventive health services to everyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay.”
In addition to accepting commercial insurance, the SHHC is also a resource to those patients on Medicaid and Medicare as well as for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
“Our mission is to be as open as possible,” Kalson said. “If they can’t pay, we’ll still take care of them.”
Services range from prenatal care to geriatrics and include psychiatric care and integrated health plans. There is also a dental clinic on the premises in Squirrel Hill.
The SHHC currently serves 5,000 patients, Kalson said, through approximately 16,000 “face-to-face visits” each year.
Following the opening of the new site, “we expect to see several thousand additional patients,” she said.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.