March 2011

St. Thomas Community Health Center

THE PROJECT

In March 2011, St. Thomas Community Health Center (STCHC) closed an innovative financing involving multiple state and Federal tax credits for the $8.0 million acquisition, rehabilitation and renovation of a blighted, 19th century building to expand its health care services and operations. STCHC is a 25-year-old, non-profit, comprehensive, section 330-funded Federally Qualified Health Center located in a highly distressed low-income community (LIC) in New Orleans, LA. STCHC provides high quality and accessible health care services to the uninsured, underinsured and the working poor in Orleans and surrounding Parishes (counties) for little to no cost. Since Hurricane Katrina and the closure of five major hospitals in Orleans Parish, STCHC had seen a 34% increase in its patient user client base. To better meet the growing needs of its target market, STCHC desperately needed to expand beyond its existing inefficient and less than desirable facilities. Both facilities, located within steps of each other, were originally built in the 1800s and had undergone piecemeal renovations but neither was construed with the intent of serving as a health care facility. The new facility, located in a National Register Historic District, was renovated and rehabbed to serve the growing needs of STCHC and the community. STCHC currently served 21,500 patients annually but projected a 114% increase in patient visits to over 45,000 patients annually over the next 7 years. The new 10,906 square foot facility increased their usable square footage by 85% and was designed as a space and energy efficient, state-of-the-art ambulatory care facility providing STCHC flexibility and ease while significantly enhancing its health care programs and services.

COMMUNITY IMPACT& HISTORIC PRESERVATION

  • Historic Preservation and Contribution: The historic building was originally constructed in the mid-1800s. Prior to renovation, the building was vacant, uninhabitable, and in need of extensive repairs, both inside and out. The renovations stabilized and preserved the building’s original structure, historic architectural details, brick cornice and stucco plaster finish, making sure the building maintained its historic presence. STCHC complied with all renovation requirements of the local, state and Federal entities overseeing HTCs and historic properties/districts. A representative from the Office of Cultural Development provided a consent letter stating the plan fits the historic character of the neighborhood.
  • Job Creation and Support: STCHC employed 45 FTEs and the new facility expansion added an additional 60 FTEs and supported 33 indirect/induced FTEs. STCHC provides job training and benefits to all employees. Renovations supported 58construction jobs and 31 indirect/induced jobs.
  • Support for Underserved Patients: STCHC mission as a Comprehensive Primary Care Facility is to provide high-quality affordable and accessible health care. STCHC charges roughly $25 per visit, on a sliding scale based on the patient’s ability to pay and never turns away a patient in need. At the time of the investment, STCHC’s service area population consisted of 264,969 people, of which 133,229 or 50% were low-income; approximately 75% of STCHC patients are uninsured. New Orleans is federally designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and the facility is located in a federally designated Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/P). The new facility enabled STCHC to substantially increase their capacity, provide higher quality services, and offer more in-house subspecialty health care services to LICs. STCHC has historically served New Orleans’ culturally and linguistically diverse communities and it has incorporated their socioeconomic and cultural needs into future operations.