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Big hopes for Conway Health Center in Ward 8

D.C. nonprofit Community of Hope has opened the Conway Health and Resource Center—a state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot center at 4 Atlantic St SW, in the Bellevue neighborhood.
Community of Hope's healthcare initiatives have reached large numbers of individuals in Ward 5 at the Family Health and Birth Center and in Ward 1 at the Marie Reed Health Center, COH found it necessary to increase their reach across the city.
“When we were looking to expand access, we particularly looked at a report done by the Rand Institute that identified certain parts of town that had limited access to healthcare and zip code 20032 was one of the specific zip codes that were identified,” says Kelly Sweeney McShane, President and CEO of Community of Hope. 
Unfavorable health outcomes and disparities run rampant in Ward 8, where residents experience higher rates of medical issues from chronic disease to infant mortality.
The building, which is on track for LEED silver certification, features 20 medical exam rooms, 11 dental operatories, 6 rooms for behavioral health services, a large meeting room for educational activities, offices for social services and COH’s administrative headquarters. A partnership with Breast Care for Washington brings diagnostic imaging, patient navigation and one of the first 3D mammography machines to Ward 8. An ophthalmology screening center will also be available in June 2014.
Other social services and wellness education will be made available at the facility, based on community input. 
“When we designed the building we were trying to make the space as flexible as possible so that we can be responsive to community needs…. as we are here and building a patient base, we’re identifying needs that we want to respond to.”
At COH’s Marie Reed Center in Adams Morgan, a special clinic for teens and young adults offers designated appointment times for general primary care, immunizations and health deficiencies as well as confidential services for family planning, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, pregnancy testing, options counseling and referral and prenatal care.  

“The goal is to reduce barriers to essential care for sexually active teens,” says, Laura Worby, nurse practitioner at the Marie Reed Center.
The same type of services can be provided for teens east of the river.
“We think there is a need around confidential … service for teens, I would love to do something [at the Conway Center],” says McShane. “[but] we are going to have to wait a little bit to see as the need grows how we respond to it.”
One initiative that needed no wait time was the use of the center as a gateway for economic development.
“Health and wellness is about seeing a physician or doctor but it’s also about making sure you have enough money to get to where you need to go, so as we were talking to the community, the advisory neighborhood councils and community members talked about the need for jobs in Ward 8,” says McShane. “So all of those pieces came together to thinking about how we can use this center for economic development as well.”
During the construction progress, 10 full-time employees and 10 temporary workers were residents of Ward 8; a job training program through COH was established to provide customer service skills specific to the healthcare field and graduated three classes of participants—most of whom are from Ward 8 and have started working with COH in various positions; and works of local artists have been purchased and are on display throughout the building.
COH received its largest individual donation in its 30-year history for this project—a $1.75 million gift from The Carlyle Group LP's co-chief executive Bill Conway and his wife Joanne, through their charitable trust.
"Their initiative to build a new health center in Ward 8 along with a job training program to hire Ward 8 residents was a great idea," Conway said in a statement. "It combines our interests in supporting low-income families, creating sustainable jobs in the healthcare industry and investing in a strong nonprofit."
Top funders also included $15.4 million from the DC Primary Care Association’s Medical Homes initiative and $6.25 million from the HRSA, Affordable Care Act. The total budget for the facility was approximately $26.6 million.
Community of Hope expects 40,000 visits from 10,000 people at the Conway Center each year.
“People are coming in, they’re really excited about the space, they’re telling their friends… it’s been really exciting and humbling in some ways to become a part of this community and I really see the excitement,” says McSweeny. 

Read more articles by Christina Sturdivant.

Christina Sturdivant is a native Washingtonian who's always watching and writing about the latest cultural, community and innovative trends in the city. She's interested in people and companies that create equitable opportunities for longtime residents and transplants alike.
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