What can doctors do when their patients’ health problems are really not about health, but about larger issues? A project at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia aims at providing answers. It’s part of a $110 million expansion of the hospital, which is located in one of the country’s poorest urban areas.
The comprehensive service facility called the Center for the Urban Child will take care of patients’ medical needs including well-visits and vaccines, but also address many of the social issues that plague families in the areas around the hospital, says CEO Carolyn Jackson.
“Anything from domestic violence to food insecurity to behavioral health, there’s just so many things that affect families living in our neighborhood,” Jackson said.
Doctors’ visits will serve as a point of connection to detect and quickly address underlying problems, explained interim pediatrician-in-chief Robert McGregor.
“We’re really planning to take advantage of the fact that when patients come here for care, that we can screen and recognize problems to have services onsite, that we can identify and tie in care immediately,” he said,
Construction on the Center for the Urban Child will begin this year, and the center is scheduled to open at the end of next year. As part of the $110 million expansion project, St. Christopher’s is also building a new critical care wing of the hospital. This facility will house 50 pediatric intensive care unit beds, as well as 60 NICU beds.
Hospital officials say the expansion will create 300 health-care jobs within five years of completion.