With a vibrant celebration that featured mariachis and dances by children dressed in traditional Mexican outfits, Community Health and Social Services (CHASS) unveiled its new state-of-the-art health center in Southwest Detroit. Detroit business owners, residents, dignitaries, and community stakeholders came together to celebrate the opening of a health center that will improve the quality of life for Detroit’s residents.
CHASS, a nonprofit organization in Southwest Detroit, opened the doors to its new health center with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Mayor Dave Bing, Congressmen Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters, members of the local media, and over 100 residents and partners. The grand opening culminated years of planning and fundraising, including a capital campaign to help raise the $17 million necessary to build the new complex.
“After 42 years and 10 years on a capital campaign, we finally did it,” said Ricardo Guzman, CHASS CEO during the ceremony’s opening remarks. “Today is our day. It’s not about individuals. It’s about staff, it’s about this building, and what it means to Southwest Detroit and what it means to the community in Southwest Detroit as an anchor.”
For more than four decades, CHASS has provided much-needed preventive and primary healthcare to uninsured and underinsured Detroit residents. According to Mr. Guzman, 86 percent of CHASS’ patients have no insurance. Now, thanks to its new facility, CHASS will be able to do even more to help the community.
The new facility, which was built next to CHASS’ former Southwest facility, more than doubles its exam facilities, which will, in turn, allow it to see three times as many patients each year. In addition, the new facility adds 50 full-time staff and triples the number of healthcare providers.
The expansive new structure has also allowed CHASS to add preventive services, such as expanded screening for colon and cervical cancers. Plans are also on the drawing board to enhance CHASS’ wellness program to include exercise and nutrition classes, and healthy cooking classes in the facility’s new demonstration kitchen.
Mayor Dave Bing, who spoke at the ceremony, reflected on what the new health center means. “I was here sometime ago,” he said, “when this was just a dream. And now to see it come to full fruition makes me feel very good and lets me know that what I’m doing is important, but what you’re doing is much more important because you are now taking care of the lives and the health here in Southwest Detroit.”
Detroit LISC was proud to support this project with $3 million in loans through funds made available by State Farm Insurance Company. Addressing the audience, Tina Brooks, LISC Executive Vice President, had a chance to congratulate CHASS and speak to the importance of the new health center to area families. “We recently decided that you can’t just do housing to stabilize communities,” she said. “You really have to think about the people who live in that housing. And that’s why we wanted to be here for the healthcare center.”
The new CHASS health center has already been recognized twice by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for two 2012 “Quality of Life Project of the Year Awards.” And it will no doubt continue to win such awards as CHASS and its dedicated staff continue to work diligently to improve the quality of life for Detroit’s residents.
The new CHASS health center is located at 5635 West Fort Street. Visit the CHASS web site for hours of operation.