As Philadelphia continues to grapple with the ongoing opioid crisis, Esperanza has a well-established substance use treatment program. With the grant, the nonprofit hopes to expand the program with the goal of enrolling more than 2,000 patients each year.
The grant will also support Esperanza adding two new medical teams and a dental team.
In addition to the grant funding, Esperanza plans to open a new community health center called Core, or the Center for Community, Opportunity, Resilience and Equity Health, in the spring.
CORE will be a new 24,000-square-foot community center adjacent to Esperanza’s current medical facility on East Allegheny Avenue. The center will serve as a gym, fitness center and meeting space for patients and residents, most of which will be free to the public, with some facilities such as event space and fitness center subject to a fee. Esperanza estimates that in the first five years, the community center will be used by at least 12,000 Kensington area residents.
Esperanza Health Center CEO Susan Post said the opioid crisis is not the only community-wide health disparity Kensington is facing. For many residents, access to housing, legal services, and good nutrition are among the many stressors that hinder overall health.
“Social determinants of health affect a person’s ability to stay healthy,” Post said. “We saw that all of these things—eating, being together, exercising, building social connections—are important to people’s health. So we decided to build this building.”
Since Esperanza opened in 1989, the city’s ongoing gun violence crisis has become a major issue that needs to be addressed, Post said. She hopes the opening of the new community health center will provide a safe hub and place for residents.
“Gun violence has created a lot of trauma across Philadelphia,” she said. “Kensington is especially harsh. Raising a child in an area with so much trauma, something like this breaks kids and families apart.”