Drexel University will begin a major expansion of its nurse-managed health center which is nationally recognized as a model of integrated care. With a new gift of $2.5 million from the Sheller Family Foundation, the center at 850 N. 11th Street will break ground for a new wing this spring, with the expanded building to be renamed the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services Center.
The center provides primary care integrated with behavioral health, dental care and a full range of health-promotion programs, while offering Drexel students clinical training opportunities, at the forefront of a rapidly evolving health care system. The center is located in North Philadelphia in the middle of four public housing developments, offering affordable services to urban residents and to all who seek care.
“As a therapist, I’ve worked with families who struggle with hardships that affect every aspects of their lives, including their health,” said Sandra Sheller, director, president and co-founder of the Sheller Family Foundation and a Drexel University alumna in art therapy (’04) and couple and family therapy (’05). “At 11th Street, people receive holistic, comprehensive care that recognizes their struggle and adversity cannot be separated from their health care needs. My husband and I are glad to be a contributor for a model for future health care for the entire country, one that gives students in the health care professions the best possible education and experience about health care in an underserved community.”
A NATIONAL MODEL OF INTEGRATED PRIMARY CARE
“We want to make certain that the best possible health services are provided to a major underserved community in our region – and also make an impact beyond that community,” said Stephen Sheller, a Drexel University trustee and prominent Philadelphia attorney, co-founder of the Sheller Family Foundation. “We’ll see that impact because 11th Street is a bellwether for the country and has set the standard for the future in terms of its entire concept of care.”
The center has been recognized as an innovator and a national model of integrated primary care by organizations including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Nursing.
Patients at the 11th Street center receive primary care services from nurse practitioners with integrated behavioral health consultations available within primary care visits as needed, and as a referred service for specialized care. Primary care services are offered in partnership with the Family Practice Counseling Network.
The center also provides a broad array of other services to promote wellness – not just treat illness – including dental care, an on-site pharmacy, a fitness center, physical therapy, yoga, nutrition education and cooking classes, creative arts therapies, social work services and more – at a single location within a community. Specialized programming emphasizes even more areas, including family-centered care and substance abuse screening and treatment in primary care. The center is a hub for many activities not traditionally considered part of health care, including distribution of fresh vegetables grown on a community farm, creating public art in the Porch Light Program and even a law clinic providing legal services and advice from Drexel law students.
The center’s comprehensive patient-centered approach to health has developed over 17 years of Drexel nursing and health professions faculty working in partnership with members of the 11th Street community and numerous supportive stakeholders.
“Many health care providers are looking to examples like ours for the best ways to offer better care to more people, at lower cost – not just to keep care affordable, but to help people live well and thrive,” said Patricia Gerrity, PhD, director of the 11th Street Family Health Services, and a professor and associate dean for community programs in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions.
FACILITY EXPANSION TO MEET COMMUNITY NEEDS
“We welcomed thousands of patients for more than 32,000 clinical service visits in 2013, but due to our severe space limitations we were facing a need to limit the number of new patients we could take on,” said Gerrity. “We reached a point where we could not serve all the people who needed services. The expansion will change that.”
The new two-story expansion will provide space for more students and faculty from Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, in addition to improving and expanding current services offered to patients and the community. A groundbreaking is planned for the spring.
“Drexel has a responsibility to help build healthy communities in Philadelphia, and the 11th Street health center has been in the vanguard of that effort for more than 15 years,” said Drexel University President John A. Fry. “Steve and Sandy’s incredible vision and generous support will allow us to provide more patients with more services, while continuing to educate students at the leading edge of innovation in health care.”
Dedicated space in the new wing will be available for more primary care visits, as well as for services provided by graduate students in Drexel’s department of Couple and Family Therapy, plus new studio space for dance, music and art therapies. More space also opens the potential for developing new programming and services in response to the community’s evolving needs.
Students from Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions will be better positioned to learn interdisciplinary care through practices modeled at the center, spanning areas such as nursing, nutrition sciences, physical therapy, couple and family therapy and creative arts therapies.
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