Plans for neighborhood health station underway in Scituate

Plans for neighborhood health station underway in Scituate

SCITUATE – Two community organizations have teamed up to create what they are calling a neighborhood health station in Scituate, hoping it will increase health care and wellness services to area residents.

WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care and the Scituate Health Alliance have plans to establish the station, focused not only on treating illnesses but on maintaining the health and wellness of people in the community.

“Wellness goes well beyond going to the doctor’s (office),” Peter Bancroft, president and CEO of WellOne, told The Valley Breeze & Observer, adding that the facility is “exciting, innovative, and ground-breaking.”

The purpose of the neighborhood health station in Scituate is to “improve the health of its residents and to do so in a way that strengthens the community – physically, emotionally, economically, and socially,” according to a vision statement written by the organizers.

The 5,000-square-foot station, scheduled to open this fall at 35 Village Plaza Way in the Scituate Village Marketplace on Route 6, will be open to anyone, not just Scituate residents.

Offering primary medical, dental, and behavioral health services, organizers say they have plans to expand in the future. They will also partner with community organizations such as a gym, athletic trainers, and nutritionists. Community space inside the facility could be used to host nutritional programs, Bancroft said.

Describing the center as “a little abstract,” Bancroft said, “It’s not operating in a vacuum which is the way a lot of health care works these days.”

A team at the health station will include primary care clinicians, social workers and behavioral health clinicians, physical and occupational therapists, nurses, dentists and dental hygienists, community health workers and health coaches, home health nurses and home health aides, public health nurses, and paramedics and emergency medical technicians, according to a press release.

When asked for examples of other neighborhood health centers, Bancroft said that a facility is in the works in Central Falls but is not expected to open before Scituate’s.

The center will operate by appointments. Hours have not yet been established.

All insurances will be accepted, Bancroft said, adding that WellOne offers programs for patients who don’t have medical coverage if they meet certain income guidelines.

Located between IGA and Rite Aid Pharmacy, the existing building must be licensed by the Rhode Island Department of Health, Bancroft said. Organizers selected the location because it’s a central, main route through the community and it has ample parking, he added.

Interior construction is expected to take four months, and will include the creation of medical and dental facilities, a conference area to host community events, spaces for substance abuse counseling, and more.

Construction and equipment financing will be provided by Citizens Bank and contributions from WellOne, a nonprofit organization that provides primary medical, dental, behavioral health and related patient support services with offices in Foster, Burrillville, and North Kingstown. The project has received funding for start-up costs from the RIGHA Fund of the Rhode Island Foundation, according to a press release.

Bancroft told The Observer that the Scituate Health Alliance, a nonprofit group that connects Scituate residents with healthcare services, approached WellOne leaders a year-and-a-half ago with the idea to create a neighborhood health station. Alliance leaders, Bancroft said, were concerned about limited medical services available in the local community.

Currently, the alliance has a program that provides uninsured and underinsured low- to moderate-income Scituate residents with access to affordable primary medical and dental care, coordinates community flu clinics, programs for new and expectant families, nursing services, and related services through arrangements with local health care providers, according to the press release.

“The availability of locally accessible primary care services in Scituate has been declining,” John Marchant, president of the Scituate Health Alliance, said in a statement. “This project will address that shortage.”