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New Anacostia Health Center Opens in Southeast

John Muller | , WI Staff Writer | 5/3/2012, 3:29 p.m.

Sporting a Dallas Cowboys hat, a brace on his left leg, and crutches to support his six-foot frame, Antwan Williams recently visited Unity Health Care's new Anacostia Health Center on Galen Street in Southeast, a stone's throw away from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. The former Anacostia Health Center in the World War II era Quonset hut on W Street is now officially closed.

Williams, 54, who lives in Northeast continues to recover from trauma sustained during the 2007 Unifest incident in which a woman on drugs barreled through the crowd in her car, striking nearly 50 people including women, children, and Williams. Despite multiple surgeries and ongoing treatment Williams' spirits remain high.

"I'm feeling better today," Williams said. "The service over here is one 120 percent better than what it was on W Street. No crowds. It was in and out."

On his way out the door, a physician reminded Williams that if he needed anything to not hesitate to call. He said he wouldn't.

Jewel Simms visited the new Anacostia Health Center for the first time on Monday, April 30. The home health care aide said the new location was far more convenient since she lives in Historic Anacostia. Now, she can get her annual check-ups closer to home. Simms, 50, previously relied on Unity's center on Minnesota Avenue in Northeast for the majority of her primary care needs.

Simms praised the expanded Anacostia facility saying, "We need a community clinic here. The added space should really help," she said.

"The W Street clinic was kind of cramped. I would use it only in cases of a personal emergency for myself or my children," Simms said.

With 26 additional exam rooms, three additional dental chairs, and an increase in square footage nearly four times that of the W Street clinic, the Anacostia Health Center, built by Forrester Construction, will be a second home to more than 80 full-time employees. According to estimates provided by Unity, nearly 17,000 patients will collectively make more than 47,000 visits by 2014 to the new center. Unity offers high quality care services regardless of ability to pay while also treating individuals with public and private insurance plans.

With the opening of the Galen Street facility, the services of Unity's Reentry Center at 1604 Morris Road in Southeast on the grounds of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church and Unity's Women, Infants, and Children Program are now contained under one roof. However, Unity's Good Hope Road Health Center nearby will remain open.

Monies to complete the new $20 million clinic came from multiple sources including Medical Homes DC, a city initiative to build primary care centers in underserved communities, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and a share of the city's 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. The DC Primary Care Association led the effort by securing 75 percent of the financing, $15 million, with Unity providing the remaining 25 percent, $5 million, to complete the project that first started in 2006.

"The transition from the old Anacostia Health Center located on W Street to our new location at 1500 Galen Street has been seamless," said Vincent A. Keane, president and CEO of Unity.

"Unity has taken significant measures to ensure that all of our patient base and the community as a whole have been informed of the move and that staff were properly trained and well equipped to take on this massive undertaking. We are excited about our future in this new location and we know that the community is excited as well."

A ribbon cutting for the new Anacostia Health Center is planned for Monday, May 7 at 1 p.m. Elected officials and the community are invited to participate in an open house following the transfer of the building's title and land from the DC Primary Care Association to Unity for the grand total of one dollar.