CHOP opens new health center, library, rec center all in one

CHOP opens new health center, library, rec center all in one
William Z. Foster

With the snip of a ribbon, South Philly got a brand new packaged deal – a hospital, a library and a recreation center, all in one.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) celebrated the grand opening of its new South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center at Broad and Morris streets on Monday morning.

The $42.5 million, 96,000-sq. ft., LEED-certified facility includes a CHOP pediatric primary care center, a Philadelphia Department of Public Health community health center, a state-of-the-art Free Library of Philadelphia South Philly branch, and a new DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center.

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Rebecca Zameska lives at 15th and Moore streets with her children, Lilyanna, 6 ½, and Georgie, 4 ½.

Together, they partnered with Friends Select School to collect roughly 1,200 books that were donated to CHOP’s library program. They’ll be used during a community book drive on May 21 at the Prudential Savings Bank along South Broad Street.

“When I heard about the plan for this new facility, I was excited to know, not only does CHOP care about the health care of our children, but in partnering with the City of Philadelphia, they’re both dedicated to the community at large, in bringing new and innovative ways to care for the whole family,” said Zameska.

“My children’s earliest years were spent at the south Philadelphia public library, because it is never too early to expose children to books and language. While under construction, we’ve missed this place, but have explored many other wonderful locations, and are now looking forward to coming back home.”

Some background on the project: in 2012, CHOP’s South Philly neighborhood clinic had outgrown its space and was looking to expand. Simultaneously, a city-operated health clinic nearby, providing primary care services to both adults and children, was in need of renovations but lacked the equipment and funds necessary to meet the increasing need of the community.

According to city officials, before long, discussions ensued between city and CHOP higher-ups, and an idea was born.

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CHOP would build upon and expand its own medical clinic on city-owned land to house the existing city clinic and the two would share the space, as well as construct a library, rec center and playground, thus doubling the size of the existing facility. And that’s how the South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center came to fruition.

“This is another example of what we’re talking about when we talk about rebuild – rebuilding of our rec centers, libraries and parks,” Mayor Jim Kenney said Monday.

“Co-location is extremely important, where we can co-locate a wonderful institution like CHOP, with our wonderful library system and our recreation system, it is a win-win-win for everybody. Locating it right at the foot of a transit stop on the Broad Street Line – we can’t do better than that when it comes to access.”