Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007

Site named for new Long Branch health facility

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Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park has announced the location of a new primary care center in Long Branch in partnership with Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, based in Washington, D.C.

The center will be located at 8709 Flower Ave. and is scheduled to open in November. It will be the first Maryland location for Mary’s Center, a nonprofit that focuses primarily on maternal child care for immigrant women.

Jere Stocks, president of Washington Adventist, said the new center will offer primary health care services to uninsured or low-income families in the area, as well as educational training programs to promote healthy living.

‘‘The area is under served,” he said. ‘‘There is a need for low-cost health care in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the need continues to grow every day. One of the keys to good health care is making sure we provide good basic health care to families, making sure people have checkups and just making sure we are there to meet their needs.”

Most of the 8,000 families Mary’s Center serves are recent immigrants with an annual income of $18,000 or less.

‘‘We’ve been seeing many patients from the Maryland area coming into the District of Columbia seeking care because of the lack of services for pregnant women in the area,” said Maria Gomez, the president and CEO of Mary’s Center. The new facility, she said, will allow local residents to receive care without leaving their community.

‘‘Most of the people that we are going to be seeing there are people who don’t have any insurance at all,” Gomez said. ‘‘Our focus in the county right now is to target this gap that we see in prenatal care providers.”

The 3,600-square-foot primary care center will provide prenatal care, pediatric⁄adolescent health services, adult health services and women’s services, including obstetrical and gynecological care.

The center hopes to treat 1,000 pregnant women next year, Gomez said.

The Flower Avenue site, near the intersection with Piney Branch Road, is an empty storefront that has been vacant for more than a year, Gomez said. She said it will cost about $370,000 to remodel the former grocery into a fully functioning and handicapped-accessible treatment center. The Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, a nonprofit based in Silver Spring that helps provide low-income and uninsured county residents with healthcare, has donated $27,000, said Yesenia Sarabia-Peiker, a spokeswoman for Mary’s Center. Sarabia-Peiker said Mary’s Center would be applying for more funds from the county and seeking matching donations from other organizations.

Stocks said the center is considering an expansion of its new site to around 15,000 square feet in order to handle more patients.

The new center is part of Washington Adventist’s plans to enhance access to health care in the area. Those plans, announced in 2005, included the hospital’s move to a new site in the White Oak⁄Calverton area and opening a health center in Long Branch.