Jun. 12, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) on Friday, June 9, welcomed elected officials and residents to its new Flushing location that will provide affordable medical, dental and mental health services for the community.
The new Healthview site, located at 131-72 at the corner of College Point Blvd. and 40th Rd., is CBWCHC’s third largest healthcare site in Queens that will increase access to high-quality, culturally competent support services of the diverse and rapidly growing neighborhood.
Members of the CBWCHC executive and clinical leadership teams spoke about how the new site would benefit the community during a press conference held at the Healthview Community Open House event. The health center staff also conducted tours of the site for community members to meet with providers and learn about available healthcare services and the brand new facility.
“For the first time, CBWCHC dental care services will expand into Queens making the health center one of the largest dental care community health providers in the area with 17 brand new dental treatment rooms,” said Kaushal Challa, CEO of CBWCHC. “We built this site in this area of Queens because this area and the surrounding zip codes are still quite underserved when it comes to accessible and culturally sensitive primary care. This is apparent in the hard data, but also we hear directly from patients and community members that plenty of folks still don’t have easy access to primary care, mental health, or dental health and they experience barriers when they try to access it.”
According to Challa, the health center wants to be part of addressing this unmet need.
The facility, which opened in December 2022, is expected to serve more than 25,000 patients with its comprehensive medical facilities. The majority of CBWCHC patients have lower income and frequently face cultural, linguistic and insurance barriers when it comes to accessing healthcare. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and Patient-Centered Medical Home, all services — including mental health and dental care — are provided regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, language they speak, or immigration history, according to Challa.
The CBWCHC accepts most major health insurance plans and will be open seven days a week.
The health center offers primary care for adults and kids. Primary care patients can access mental health services when needed, according to Challa, among a host of supporting services such as social work, health educators, enrollment specialists and care managers who assist patients and help them navigate the complex healthcare system.
“We listened to our community. We heard that they wanted dental services here and we hope that our patients get to meet and receive our care from our fabulous team of dentists. The OBGYN operations will begin in July,” said Hyoseong Nuna Kim, MD, deputy chief medical officer, CBWCHC.
Healthview, which is located next to the Skyview Shopping Center and across the street from NYCHA Bland Houses, is an 80,000-square-foot, six-story building that cost $75 million to develop, according to Lynn Sherman, executive vice president of Finance, IT, Capital Projects & HR.
The project was financed with $30 million of Build NYC tax exempt bonds purchased by Flushing Bank, a $10 million donation from the Chinatown Health Clinic Foundation, a $2.75 million benefit from the Federal New Market Tax Credit program, a grant from the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, and support from the Queens Borough President’s Office and the City Council.
“We are really proud that we were able to deliver this project on time and on budget,” Sherman said. “We’re excited to provide more healthcare to all residents in Queens. One of the things we’re interested in is leveraging federal, state, and city programs that exist and bring more dollars to Queens, which was really critical to us.”
In a borough that is the most ethnically diverse area in the world with approximately 2.3 million residents speaking over 350 languages, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards noted the need for more healthcare institutions that reflects the communities it serves.
“I often say that we need institutions that are for us, and by us — organizations that speak the community’s language, who understand the community and come from the community, who will better serve those communities,” Richards said. “That’s why we’ve invested $20 million in my first two-and-a-half years as borough president into healthcare and we are going to continue to invest.”
The borough president reflected on the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted the many disparities around the borough and the healthcare system.
“When we look at how Queens was the epicenter and the shortage of beds and the shortage of preventative care, this is what this center is providing,” Richards said. “It’s about access and opportunities like Bland Houses right across the street. How do we ensure that communities like Flushing, who have been underserved for so long, are now seeing that investment that they rightly deserve and we cannot do that without our partners in Congress and the City Council.”
In her remarks, Congresswoman Grace Meng said that the work the center provides to communities is “critical and lifesaving.”
“Oftentimes when people around the country talk or brag about their community centers, I always get to talk about Charles B. Wang in the heart of my district,” Meng said. “As everyone is more aware of the mental health needs of our youth and so many in our community, we literally partnered with Charles B. Wang and its team hand in hand, line by line, to craft necessary mental health legislation to create opportunities for future streams of funding for programs to come back to Queens.”
City Councilwoman Sandra Ung thanked the healthcare professionals for the work that they do, and the state partners and representatives who make sure that people have “culturally competent and language access healthcare,” especially in the Flushing community.