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St. Joseph's Primary Care Center on Syracuse's Westside provides one-stop shop for patients

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center has expanded it’s primary care center in one poverty stricken Syracuse neighborhood. The new center will offer a single location where patients can get many medical needs met on the city’s near Westside.

The Primary Care Center-West has been around on Gifford Street since the mid-1990s. Medical Director Luis Castro says the expansion not only quadruples the size of the facility, but creates a kind of one-stop shop for patients.

"We’re gonna have multiple types of services, family medicine, pediatrics, OB/GYN, mental health," Castro said. "We’re going to provide social work services, nutrition counseling, on-site phlebotomy and imaging services as well.”

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
WRVO file photo
An outside view of the newly expanded office.

Saint Joseph’s Community Engagement Specialist Susan Furtney echoed Castro's response, saying the center should also reduce unnecessary visits to emergency rooms in Syracuse, because more patients will have access to primary care in a neighborhood where three quarters of residents are Medicaid and Medicare recipients, or have no health insurance at all.

These services are key in a community where poverty makes getting across town to get an X-ray a sometimes insurmountable barrier. Patient Nancy John says ultimately, it will mean better care.

"You're willing to do more for yourself and your child or whoever you’re with," John said." You’re willing to do more because it’s all right here for you.”

Castro believes this kind of care could be the wave of the future.

“This is a fairly unique situation, where we are partnering with different aspects of primary care and mental health under one roof," Castro said. "So we think it’s a model that’ll be emulated down the road nationally.”

Among other services will be a nutritional program coordinated with Nojaims Supermarket next door that will track food purchases and offer perks to patients who choose healthy diets. The expanded services also include a pregnancy club, where a translator, patient educator, social worker and dietitian will meet once a week with pregnant women in the neighborhood where more than 40 percent of residents have limited English skills.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.