New Center Brings Health and Social Services to South Philadelphia
Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center is Now Open
PHILADELPHIA — Underserved communities in South Philadelphia have a new resource for healthcare and social services with the opening of the Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center.
A virtual grand opening ceremony was held on April 9 for the center, which is located in the Bok Building at 9th and Mifflin streets. The facility brings medical and support services; social services; and community arts, education, and gathering spaces to the area with a largely immigrant and refugee population.
The center, made possible by a $3.1 million gift from the Wyss Foundation and other benefactors, is a program of Jefferson’s Philadelphia Collaborative for Health Equity, and a partnership between Jefferson’s Department of Family and Community Medicine and SEAMAAC, a community-based organization that supports underserved communities.
Marc Altshuler, MD, associate professor and physician of Family and Community Medicine at Jefferson and clinical leader of the Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center, says the center’s location is paramount to ensuring the immigrant and refugee population receive the care they need. Services are provided to members of the community regardless of health insurance or citizenship status.
“If you want to address the disparities that patients face, you have to bring healthcare into the communities and not make the communities come to the healthcare provider,” Altshuler says.
“As we celebrate the opening of the Wyss Wellness Center, we also wish to celebrate the diversity of this community and reaffirm what an honor it is to serve them and provide much needed health, wellness, and support services,” says Sandra E. Brooks, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Executive Vice President and Chief Community Health Equity Officer at Thomas Jefferson University. “We also feel it important to state that we stand against racism and violence, and decry recent events that have been so painful to many. It is our hope this center will be a source of strength and community.”
Some of the services offered include primary and specialty clinical care, domestic violence assistance, elder health and wellness care, ESL, literacy and educational programs, and employment aid. There are also spaces for the community to gather for social purposes.
Jefferson is one of the largest providers in Philadelphia for refugee health care and is one of only four programs in the nation recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Center of Excellence in Refugee Healthcare.
“This is a true partnership, aimed at tackling the growing gap in health outcomes among different communities in our city,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, President of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health. “We know people want to live and thrive without healthcare getting in the way. That’s the support and service we want to build, right here.”
Along with Alshuler, the center is led by Jessica Deffler, MD, Jefferson physician and Medical Director of the Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center; Thoai Nguyen, Chief Executive Officer of SEAMAAC; and Christa Loffelman, MSW, LSW, Health and Social Services Director of SEAMAAC.