Compassion, dedication, and dollars are needed to stitch the physical and mental wounds caused by the health care gap in underserved communities.
Congresswoman Cori Bush [D, St. Louis] hit the “Health Care Heroes” trail on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, during a whirlwind tour of financial support for 10 recipients of 2022 Community Funding Projects.
Affinia Healthcare received $2 million for construction of a news community health in Ferguson, the largest of Bush’s approved projects. She said the center will be essential to bringing better health care outcomes to north St. Louis County.
Bush said north St. Louis County communities have long needed doctors closer to home.
“We just have a few [health centers] where people can go where they are uninsured or underinsured,” Bush said at Affinia Healthcare’s health center in Pagedale.
“Having that in every place is necessary, and it’s been a long time coming.”
Dr. Kendra Holmes, Affinia executive vice president and CEO, said the investment “will ensure that women of color receive the quality health care, and prenatal care that they deserve.”
“Importantly, this can happen in their own communities,” she said.
Dr. Alan Freeman, Affinia president and CEO, said the new 15,000 square foot community health center will be adjacent to the Emerson YMCA at 3390 Pershall in Ferguson.
Affinia Health Care Services staff, board and city officials take a picture with first district congresswoman Cori Bush after presenting a check for two million dollars for funding on improvements and services Wed. May 4, 2022 at the agency’s Pagedale, MO. location.
“Affinia Healthcare is extremely grateful to Congresswoman Bush for her outstanding support, which will help further vital access to high quality primary health care for vulnerable individuals in our region,” he said.
Yvonne Buhlinger, Affinia Healthcare Foundation executive vice president, said Bush’s support helps with the “endeavor to secure financial resources to support addressing unmet healthcare needs in our community.”
Affinia serves about 44,000 people annually and more than 90% have incomes under 100% of the federal poverty level, which for a family of four is $27,750.
Approximately 70% of patients served are Black, 11% are Hispanic/Latinx, and over 4,000 are un-housed.
Cori Bush’s other Health Care Heroes stops included:
Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she supported the BJH and St. Patrick Center partnership, “Hospital to Housing,” with $800,000. The project will provide housing to unhoused or housing insecure individuals who frequently seek shelter in hospital emergency departments.
St. Louis University, where she presented a $500,000 check for its Mobile Health Clinic. The mobile unit will serve parts of St. Louis where there is a lack of health care facilities, transportation to clinics, or the technology to utilize telehealth options.
CareSTL Health, where she provided a check for $1,000,000 toward construction of The Ville Wellness Campus (VWC). It will offer health services to improve mental health outcomes, substance use disorders, chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, and offer dental and specialty services. The 46,000 square foot wellness campus will replace the health center’s facility on Whittier Street.
“We are doing the work to help close these disparity gaps, to help with equity in our communities,” Bush said.
“You have to do that starting with direct investment and another way to do that is to work with folks who do the work.”
1st Dist Congresswoman Cori Bush, CARE STL Health Executive Director Angela Clabon listen to St. Louis Health Director Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis spoke on the importance of the facility being built where it’s most needed during ground breaking ceremonies for CARE STL Health’s new headquarters at Newstead and St. Louis Avenues Wed. May 4, 2022.
Each U.S. Representative can request funding for Community Project initiatives in their district “with demonstrated community support,” according to Bush’s office. Only state and local governments and eligible non-profit entities were permitted to receive funding. Bush secured funding for all 10 of her submitted projects, totaling more than $9 million.
Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner made no requests on behalf of any constituent, organization, or local government in the 2nd Congressional District.