By Rebecca Henely
The Plaza del Sol Family Health Center, a medical center in Corona which provides primary care services for adults and children, celebrated its first-year anniversary last month with a dinner that raised $10,000.
“It was a way of thanking the community for having supported us in the past year,” said Paloma Hernandez, president and chief executive officer of Urban Health Plan Inc.
Plaza del Sol, at 37-16 108th St., is one of three satellite offices for Urban Health Plan, a program begun 30 years ago in the South Bronx to bring medical care to underserved communities. It is the only satellite office located outside of the Bronx.
Hernandez said the center was the brainchild of Helen Arteaga, a White House fellow who had traveled throughout Africa and South America on public health work. Arteaga, who grew up in Corona, was inspired by her father when she, along with Monsignor Thomas Healy of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Corona, envisioned a health center to serve the community.
“I think there wasn’t a systematic way of accessing primary care in that community,” Hernandez said. “I think it was fragmented: a lot of use of the ER and no federally qualified health center.”
Her dream started to come to fruition when Hernandez met Arteaga six years ago.
“We kind of linked up and Plaza del Sol was born,” Hernandez said.
In June 2009, the doors opened on Plaza del Sol. Hernandez said that from June 2009 to December 2009 the center received 10,000 visits, and they expect to have 28,000 visits this year. The services the center provides currently include primary care for adults and children as well as optometry services. The staff boasts a little more than 40 employees, including doctors, nurses, medical assistants, nutritionists and clerical staff.
“The majority of them are residents of Queens or Corona,” Hernandez said. “So we not only provide health care, but we provide local jobs.”
The center celebrated its success with a one-year anniversary dinner at The Holiday Inn on 114th Street. With tickets going at $150, the center raised $10,000. Hernandez said the aim of the dinner was asking supporters to continue to make the center one of their charities of choice.
In the next year, the center wants to expand its services to include adolescent care and pre-natal care. Hernandez said the center sees this as an extension of itsprimary care services. The WIC program, which provides food coupons to underserved women and children, will also be available at the food center in early 2011. Hernandez said this was at the request of WIC, which wanted programs located with local health care centers.
She said patient satisfaction surveys have been positive.
“People are very happy and they feel very comfortable in referring their friends and relatives to the center,” Hernandez said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.