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Northside Richmond center hopes to close gap in healthcare disparities

Stethoscope laying over doctors emergency report
Posted at 5:51 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 17:51:22-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond non-profit is preparing to open a new health center on the city's northside and hopes to close the gap on some healthcare disparities in the area.

HandsUp plans to deposit resources for the community by transforming an old bank building into a new community health hub. The concept is a vision that CEO and founder Augusta Hite has been dreaming about for years.

"Installing a free clinic. We will have a pharmacy, a non-profit pharmacy that would offer low-cost medication, free medication. An education and consultation component. Will partner with community food banks to have a farmer's market in the parking lot," Hite said.

The former Bank of America building on Brookland Park Boulevard was donated a few years ago to the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust. CEO Erica Sims said the nonprofit spent more than a year seeking input from the community and two applicants submitted proposals.

"We worked with our Partner 6 Point Innovation Center right across the street and we were really fortunate to have them as a key pillar of the neighborhood because they helped us with lots of meetings with community members to really understand what kind of uses do you want to see here? One of the things that did rise to the top, and we had many ideas, but one of them was medical space, space for food and healthcare," Sims said.

"Marginalized neighborhoods and underserved populations being able to have access to healthcare, employment and fresh food are paramount to the survival of these communities," Hite said.

Sims said the decision to award the building to HandUp came down to a citizen's advisory panel. Both she and Hite believe it's a project that not only addresses glaring health disparities in the African American community but it will also plant seeds of hope, stability and wellness in the community.

"There is really clear recognition that these are the kind of anchor institutions that help neighborhoods thrive so I see this as being a key part of the neighborhood's future," Sims said.

The HandUp Six Points Community Health Hub will bring in other nonprofits as community partners to provide other resources. They will also offer educational workshops and substance abuse programs.

Hite expects it will take between 18 to 24 months to get the doors to the health center open.

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