| Codman Square is a neighborhood of Boston that had been a vibrant community until the 1970s, when disinvestment and dramatic demographic change made it one of the most blighted communities in Boston. Riots in 1978 completed the destruction of the commercial district, while house fires, in some years in the 1970s numbering one per day, made some of the residential districts into urban wastelands. Dramatic increases in crime, health indicators that approximated third world figures, and high unemployment created very difficult living circumstances, with the outside perspective indicated in headlines that read "Surviving in Codman Square," "Death on Disputed Turf," "Births in the Death Zone," "Urban Terrorism in Boston," and "Fleet Teenagers Roam Dorchester Badlands."
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In the midst of this chaotic period, neighborhood residents began meeting to look for solutions. In 1974, at a meeting of the Codman Square Civic Association, the idea of reusing the old Codman Square Library (a prominent building in Codman Square that was to be vacated by the BPL) to start a health center was discussed and voted. A committee made up of representatives from all around Codman Square was formed, and worked for several years before gaining the necessary permissions to begin operations. The Codman Square Health Center, a non-profit community corporation with a board of directors made up mainly of community residents, opened in 1979 in the basement of the Library with pediatric and internal medicine services.
Over the years, the Codman Square Health Center has grown tremendously, expanding both in size and in services. By 2005, it had purchased and renovated the former Codman Square Nursing Home, Court Annex, and buildings on Epping Street, in addition to completely renovating the former library building into what is now known as "The Great Hall," encompassing about 100,000 square feet of commercial space. There are over 250 employees working in the health center's buildings, providing more than 150,000 visits annually in areas such as: primary care (pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine), OB/GYN/Family Planning, urgent care, radiology, dermatology, dentistry, eye care, nutrition, mental health, substance abuse, and WIC services. In addition, Codman Square Health Center has worked with its partner health center, the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, to create an array of community and public health services, including: HIV services, environmental health, youth services, community technology, business development, college preparatory programs, recreation, civic engagement, financial literacy, adult education, and family support services. These services, aligned with the clinical care of the two health centers, have created a holistic system of health care which is called DotWell.
Codman Square Health Center's goal is to help the Codman Square community be the best it can be, providing services and opportunities for the residents of the Dorchester and Mattapan community to be able to have optimal health and to achieve success in their lives.
Codman Square Health Center
? Just Down the Street ?
Bill Walczak, CEO
[article published in Melville Park Associaton Newsletter, v. 6, issue 3, November, 2006]
You may have heard about the Codman Square Health Center in a newspaper article or by seeing an advertisement. You may even know someone who uses it. But have you wondered what it does, who it serves, and who works there? Let me take some of the mystery out of it.
First, a little history. The Codman Square Health Center started in the 1970s as a community redevelopment effort involving people from all around Codman Square. The goals were to offer health services to residents who had no access to care, and to improve conditions in Codman Square. Codman Square was horribly blighted in the 1970s. Its business district had fallen on terrible times, with many storefronts empty and burned out; its nearby neighborhoods were deteriorating and in a state of chaos with nearly daily house fires. The health center opened its doors in 1979 in the basement of what is now the Great Hall. Moving forward to the present day, the Codman Square Health Center has grown. We now have over 20,000 active patients making over 100,000 annual visits to all services. We have 275 employees occupying nearly 100,000 square feet of commercial space. Our budget is $16 million.
Our services include both medical/clinical and community services. Core clinical services (at 637 Washington Street) are: primary care, pediatrics, internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN/family planning, mental health, dentistry, and optometry. We have some specialty services, such as ophthalmology and minor surgery. We have X-Ray, mammography, ultrasound, and a full service laboratory. We provide urgent care that is open until 10:00 most nights. We offer special programs for diabetics and people with HIV. We are certified (highest rating) with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which certifies all hospitals for quality of service. And speaking of quality, our technology is cutting edge, with an electronic medical record system (recommended by people who study health care as essential to ensuring quality), and are installing a digital dental x-ray system. Our doctors are all board certified, from some of the best schools and training programs in the US.
To serve our community, we have after school programs, a technology training center (at 450 Washington Street), a business training program for girls, teen programs, and we are planning a fitness center. We offer financial counseling services and adult education. Many community organizations use our space for programs and meetings. We also are partners with Codman Academy Charter High School, a six-day-a-week extended day public school which has sent every single graduate to a four year college.
Who uses the Health Center? Anybody can use it. Although our customer base is Dorchester, one in six of our patients lives in the suburbs. We accept nearly all insurances, and also provide services to those without insurance. So come by and see what?s down the street Tours are available by calling me at 617-822-8184.
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Created: February 10, 2005 Modified: November 10, 2006