A rendering of a new 24,000-square-foot federally qualified health center...

A rendering of a new 24,000-square-foot federally qualified health center planned in a building under renovation at 619 Fulton Ave. in Hempstead. Credit: Geddis Architects

A new $10.7 million health center in Hempstead will provide services including a designated pediatric exam rooms to OB/GYN services, mental health counseling and even a food pantry, officials said Monday.

David Nemiroff, president and CEO of the Long Island Federally Qualified Health Centers said the new facility in a building at 619 Fulton Ave. currently being renovated will be able to serve about 12,000 clients a year — about double the current capacity of 6,000. It is on target to open in about a year.

At 24,000 square feet it will be roughly triple the size of the current Long Island FQHC facility in Hempstead, which they will vacate when the new site is ready, he said.

“Hempstead needs this in the community,” Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr., said during a ceremony last week to mark the start of construction at the site.

Hobbs pointed out there are “so many people that are number one, afraid to go to the doctor and number two, don’t have access to health care.”

Nemiroff said the current facility in Hempstead was plagued by leaks and other problems.

“This will be a cleaner, safer, nicer environment,” said Nemiroff. “We will be able to expand the capacity of our services from 13 exam rooms in the current location to around 31 and add new services we hadn’t offered before in Hempstead including dental and optometry.”

Long Island FHQC provides health services to people who are uninsured and underserved as well as those with private insurance. It has six facilities in Nassau County in Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Westbury, Roosevelt and Oceanside as well as three school-based centers in Freeport, Roosevelt and Westbury.

About 33% of the patients who use Long Island FQHC facilities are uninsured, Nemiroff said, noting the facility will serve anyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Whenever someone comes to my agency and needs health service, I automatically refer them there,” said George Siberón, executive director of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association Inc. “They don’t question whether you are undocumented or have health insurance or not and that provides that safety net that otherwise our community would not have.”

Having a range of services in one location is key to helping people stay on top of their health needs, especially those who cannot travel to multiple locations, said Martine Hackett, director of public health programs at Hofstra University.

“This new health center is really significant because not only does it provide access to health care for the residents of Hempstead, but it also has so many other services that affect all different aspects of health,” said Hackett. “I think that provides access to the community residents and also the ability for them to actually use the services that they need.”

Nemiroff said funding for the project came from a number of sources including U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, state money and federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan as well as the organization’s own operations budget.

Long Island FHQC will rent the building initially with plans down the road to buy the property from owner AK Realty Group.

“We could potentially hire more doctors because we'll have more space,” Nemiroff said. “This is a very densely populated community and having the capacity to expand our internal medicine and family medicine will help tremendously.”

Providing preventive care is the key to better health outcomes, he said.

“There are a lot of people we care for who live very close to where this facility is,” he said. “The more services we can kind of bring to them the better it is for them.”

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