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Esperanza Health Center recently received $4 million in funding. Photo Courtesy of Esperanza Health Center.
Esperanza Health Center recently received $4 million in funding. Photo Courtesy of Esperanza Health Center.

Esperanza Health Center receives $4 million Pew Charitable Trusts grant

The new funding will be used to expand integrated health and wellness services in Kensington's predominantly Latino and Black communities.

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The Pew Charitable Trusts recently announced that it has awarded Esperanza Health Center with a $4 million grant to help expand its medical, behavioral health, and wellness programs in Kensington and surrounding underserved communities. 

The funding will also help the organization engage more local residents to better meet their wellness, clinical, and social services needs, focusing on improving access and inclusivity.

“Since our founding in 1989, we have been following a vision for whole-person healthcare in North Philadelphia,” Susan Post, Esperanza Health Center’s CEO, said in a press release. 

“We continue to learn the importance of community engagement to improve health and wellness and reduce health disparities. It is an extraordinary honor to have Pew’s support to help us propel this vision forward,” she added. 

The award is a Pew Fund for Health and Human Services growth grant, which aims to help Philadelphia-area nonprofit providers expand their ability to offer high-quality, research-informed services for people facing challenges rooted in poverty. 

Thanks to the additional funding, Esperanza Health Center will expand it services to serve 2,000 additional patients annually by adding two more medical teams and one additional dental team in its Kensington location. 

“Pew is very pleased to support Esperanza Health Center’s commitment to providing care that integrates the highest-quality clinical services with behavioral health and social supports in underserved Philadelphia communities,” said Kristen Romens, project director for the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services.

Support from the Pew grant will enable Esperanza to better address health disparities that are most common among its patient population and community residents, which includes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, prenatal and perinatal health, opioid use disorder, and adult mental health, among others. 

The organization will also add staff to its behavioral and community health teams to provide more support, including group therapy and peer counseling. 

“Our hope is to address the social determinants of health that make up 60-80% of our health determined by inequitable social, economic, built, and physical conditions that exist in the communities we serve,” said Debra Ortiz-Vasquez, Director of Community Health and Wellness at Esperanza. 

“We strive to create shared spaces for increased social interactions and less isolation, where community can be created and fostered, where opportunities to build resiliency are offered and a place where equitable access to wellness is readily available for all in order to feel empowered to make the necessary changes to be well in their person, family, neighborhood, and community,” she continued. 

Recently, Esperanza introduced its new community wellness center, The CORE

Located adjacent to its Kensington medical care facility, is designed to focus on overall wellness. It includes a fitness center, gymnasium, conference and event space, and areas for programs such as nutrition and health education classes, fresh produce distribution, legal services, and assistance accessing public benefits. 

An estimated 12,000 patients and community members are expected to use the center’s wellness programs during its first five years in operation.

“We look forward to having an even greater impact on generations to come,” said Post. 

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