Hilltop health center moving up to So. Hills Retirement Residence
Fourteen years ago members of the Beltzhoover neighborhood approached Father Regis Ryan and Sto-Rox Family Health Center and requested an outreach program for their community.
It was at that moment the non-profit Hilltop Community Health Center (HCHC) was born. Since then the group has operated in sometimes difficult and limited conditions in a double-wide trailer parked on Climax St. in Beltzhoover. A small team of dedicated doctors and staff serve the surrounding communities with care and compassion, providing health care for underserved populations.
Individuals without health insurance, single mothers with children, the homeless, or those who have not received prior medical care, have all been welcomed at the health center.
“I will never forget the soaking wet teenage parents with their infant son, just discharged from the neonatal ICU, walking in the pouring rain to see me, relieved to have a local doctor. Or the child carried in by his mother, coughing and wheezing, newly homeless, sent out to the street with nothing, including no asthma medication,” Dr. Any Nevin, one of the center’s physicians, reflected on some of the patients they have seen over the years.
“We treated him promptly in our office and he recovered without needing the ER. There are countless others, like the grandmother who would hold her young granddaughter on her lap while they together rolled in the motorized wheelchair down the street for vaccines at our office. Caring for the community, sharing in their stories, and connecting us together has been the strength of the Hilltop Community Health for the past 10 years,” she continued.
HCHC is finally relocating after years in cramped and inadequate quarters. The non-profit recently won a $1.9 million capital grant from Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and are nearing completion of a new clinical space that will allow them to increase the number of people they serve.
The new space will allow them to provide additional services to the Beltzhoover, Allentown, Mt. Oliver and Mt. Washington communities.
The new facility will be located in the courtyard commercial space in the South Hills Retirement Residence, the recently renovated South Hills High School at 151 Ruth Street in Mt. Washington. The former high school now holds 106 units of housing for seniors.
Hilltop Community Health has family practitioners, nurse practitioners, and pediatricians; and offers care in general internal medicine, women’s health, pediatrics and podiatry. Dr. Trina Peduzzi, Dr. Nevin and Lorraine Reiser CRNP all long-term veterans at the trailer are excited about the new programming opportunities afforded by the new space. One such addition is psychiatry.
In the midst of planning the project Dr. Nevin asked the group, “while we are all focused on solving the problems that we have had providing services from a trailer, is there anything that is positive about the trailer that we want to keep?”
The team immediately decided while its current space is tight, it promotes an intimacy with patients and staff. It is the intention the close connection the Hilltop Community Health team has with its patients will be retained in the new space.
HCHC’s new space is many times larger than the double-wide trailer they now occupy and will have a LEED CI certification and is being built to meet Passive House Standards. Hilltop hired the architectural firm, Thoughtful Balance, to design the new facility. Thoughtful Balance is a leader in the region on Passive House design for new and existing buildings.
The focus on lower energy bills for the space is critical in helping HCHC keep utility costs low so they can focus their resources on their mission. Passive House energy strategies allow projects to save close to 80 percent of the energy costs for heating and cooling.
HCHC chose James Construction to build the project.
“Achieving the Passive House rating in buildings that are retrofits can be tricky, but even if we don’t make the rating, the effort will have a tremendous impact on saving energy,” Craig Stevenson added.
“It would be nice to get the Passive House rating, but at the end of the day, our client needs low utility bills to continue their mission and that’s what’s really important,” Laura Nettleton, architect at Thoughtful Balance, said.
The project is nearing completion and Hilltop Community Healthcare will first begin seeing patients in their new office at the end of July.