Since 1992, St. Mary’s Center has provided holistic healthcare and supportive social services within “a homelike environment” to people living with HIV/AIDS in Central Harlem. Their residential facility can care for 40 patients 365 days a year. In 2016, more than 14,000 visits to their Adult Day Health Center also helped many others take control of their health, through skilled medical and nursing care; music, art and physical therapy; substance-abuse counseling, and nutrition consultations.

St. Mary’s has been a bright spot in what the US Health Resources and Services Administration designates a “medically underserved” neighborhood. Poor social, economic, and housing conditions are accompanied by a wide range of health problems; there are very few healthcare facilities within or near the area’s public housing developments, and there’s a severe shortage of primary care physicians and behavioral health services. Some 40% of the people who live in Central Harlem turn to emergency rooms for care, compared to 27% in NYC’s general population. 

St. Mary’s vision is to expand its primary care services and diminish the disparity in access to care, building upon their quality care for people living with HIV/AIDS to increase healthcare access for the vulnerable and underserved community at large. Their plan includes measurable outcomes and reflects the nonprofit’s core values of compassion, clinical and cultural competence, regulatory compliance, and fiduciary and ethical responsibility. But realizing this vision required a crucial missing component: sufficiently large and equipped space. 

Collaboration and community partnerships are helping to make this vision a reality. A $1.9-million facilities loan from NFF gave St. Mary’s the financing to renovate and transform its 4,000-square-foot basement into a new primary care clinic with four consulting rooms for behavioral health services, five exam rooms, a nurses’ station, and more. The new clinic will be operational in spring 2017, and is projected to serve 374 clients in its first year and 2,200 by year 5. The clinic also will create new jobs and increase the number of skilled medical and behavioral-care providers available to residents of Central Harlem.

“NFF has enabled us to bring to life our vision of comprehensive primary care and integrated behavioral health for the Central Harlem community. We are proud and excited to witness and participate in the dawning of a new day of culturally competent care for the people of our community,” said Holly Argent Tariq, St. Mary’s Center CEO.