It’s an ambitious goal: to create a more integrated health care model while serving a higher number of patients.
And that’s one of the reasons the Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers’ flagship site will be transformed into a three-story, 21,000-square-foot facility.
The new facility will offer a new pharmacy, primary care, supportive social services, behavioral health services and wellness classes that will be available to the community. A groundbreaking ceremony for the project took place earlier this month.
Currently, Sixteenth Street serves 45,000 people annually at all its locations, according to the organization. The expansion, which will add to the existing clinic’s north end, will accommodate an additional 32,000 visits a year.
Sixteenth Street’s flagship location is at 1032 S. Cesar E. Chavez Drive on Milwaukee’s South Side.
Serving the underserved
The clinic’s goal is to be a one-stop shop for health care needs for the underserved communities on the South Side.
Sixteenth Street opened its doors in 1969 in the heart of the South Side and became the first community health clinic in the state. Since its inception, the health center has provided a wide array of health services to diverse and largely Latino populations around Milwaukee.
Designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center, Sixteenth Street operates as a community-based nonprofit health center. The clinic offers primary care, social services, behavioral health and many other services to medically underserved areas and populations. Patients receive care without regard to their insurance, immigration status or their ability to pay.
Sixteenth Street uses a sliding pay scale based on income and takes a variety of insurances. No one is turned away from services.
With the addition of a pharmacy, Sixteenth Street clients will be able to visit a doctor and go straight to the pharmacy and get needed medication without having to worry about language or transportation barriers.
Members of the community, Milwaukee County and state officials as well as medical partners such as Froedtert Health took part in the groundbreaking.
Deb Standridge, the deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, also spoke.
“We know that not every community has the same access to health care services, and this disparity can lead to disparities of health,” she said. She said this is especially true of people with “low income and communities of color.”
$9 million project
Gov. Tony Evers awarded Sixteenth Street more than $2 million from the State Healthcare Infrastructure Capital Grant Program, with help from the American Rescue Plan Act, for the clinic’s expansion. Total funds for the project came in at $9 million.
Other Sixteenth Street community programs will also be housed in the expanded clinic, including its lead program.
In partnership with the City of Milwaukee Health Department, this program provides testing for more than 6,000 children annually. This testing and education allow families to detect lead poisoning and find solutions to lead remediation in family homes.
The clinic’s Women, Infant and Children, or WIC, program will also be moved during the expansion. This program provides nutritional and breastfeeding counseling and medical resources for pregnant and postpartum women. Sixteenth Street pediatrics care and WIC will soon be under one roof, supplying greater accessibility to those in need of these services.
At the event, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley lauded Sixteenth Street’s commitment to serving Milwaukee’s South Side.
“We want to make sure that we are preventing poor health outcomes before they even materialize in the community,” Crowley said.
He said that Sixteenth Street is an incredible resource poised to act on such issues as addiction and poor health generally.
Construction for the expansion is slated to start in late September with hopes of finishing in fall of 2024.
Dr. Mark Lodes, the chief medical officer for population health and medical education at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network, announced Froedtert’s $4.7 million donation to the new expansion.
“They’re committed to tailoring care to the needs of the local neighborhoods and populations,” Lodes said. “And they deliver culturally and linguistically competent care.”
Connecting to the community
Many providers and staff at Sixteenth Street are bilingual, reflecting the South Side community’s population, with Spanish being a mainstay.
“Sixteenth Street has been a trusted service provider for the community for 50 years,” Sixteenth Street President and CEO Dr. Julie Schuller told NNS after the groundbreaking ceremony.
Schuller said that health care providers are meant to be in the community and of the community.
This is why at least 51% of board members are patients of the clinic.
“We’re constantly adjusting and adapting to meet the changing needs of the community because we are directly plugged into it,” Schuller said.
For more information
If you or a loved one would like to make an appointment in Milwaukee, call (414) 672-1352 or visit Sixteenth Street’s website.
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