MERIDEN — Community Health Center Inc. has begun a $5 million renovation to expand its urgent care center, reconfigure existing space and improve the grounds.
“We have a lot of space now that we’re putting to better use,” said Michael Rohde, director of community relations for Community Health Center. “This is going to take us nine to 12 months.”
The 40,000-square-foot center at 134 State St. is actually two buildings, one a former manufacturing plant, the other a former bank.
CHC, based in Middletown with more than a dozen satellite branches throughout the state, has operated in Meriden for 20 years. The Meriden location services about 17,000 people, primarily low income.
“It will provide greater convenience for patients to receive urgent care services,” said Regional Vice President Amy Taylor. “And it will provide greater accessibility for the team to work together. The repaving will offer improved walkability.”
Other highlights include new drainage, landscaping and new fencing. The interior work, which as already begun on the first floor, includes two new waiting areas, two new behavioral health rooms, two new blood draw rooms, three new urgent care exam rooms and new conference space.
Newfield Construction of Hartford is handling the work. Rohde said there should be no traffic interruptions along State Street.
Community Health Center, a federally qualified health care provider, has increased its visibility since the pandemic began. It was quick to embrace telehealth and became a large-scale operator of COVID-19 testing sites, including Rentschler Field in East Hartford and the Danbury Mall. When the vaccines became available, it quickly pivoted to operating mega vaccine sites, in addition to vaccinating patients on State Street.
CHC has also been involved in vaccine outreach in underserved communities, including a clinic at Mount Hebron Church and an upcoming event at St. Rose’s Church today. The St. Rose clinic is aimed at both undocumented and documented Latino residents. About 150 vaccines will be administered.
Plans for the construction project began prior to the pandemic with funding provided through federal and private tax credit incentive programs. Since the pandemic, CHC has received millions in federal funding and the latest American Rescue Act plan offers even more to federally-qualified health care providers.
“We’re doing pretty well in funding, there is a lot of money coming for health care,” Rohde said. “We’ve been stepping up big time, like we did telehealth right off the bat, then testing … Our vaccine rollout … Things are changing so fast in health care.”
The exterior enhancements to the CHC building align with the city’s goal of improving the area around the Meriden Train Station and the State Street corridor from Interstate 691.
City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest recently toured CHC. He praised the city’s partnership with both CHC and MidState Medical Center to ensure residents have adequate access to testing and the vaccine. The renovation will improve services and beautify downtown, he said.
“We are thrilled to have them expand on State Street and add on to an already attractive old structure and bring some new life into it,” Feest said. “The train station is the heart of our TOD and improving the building next door definitely increases the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”