City buys building for $3.5M from GBMC for new health clinic

Baltimore plans $5M replacement of Eastern Health Center for 'most vulnerable' residents.

Baltimore's Board of Estimates agreed Wednesday to pay the Greater Baltimore Medical Center $3.5 million to buy an unoccupied medical center in Southeast Baltimore to open a new health clinic.

As part of a $5 million project, the city plans to relocated the Eastern Health Center at 620 N. Caroline St. to the newly purchased facility at 1200 E. Fayette St. The current health clinic is 75 years old and has received few upgrades over the years, city officials said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who controls three of five votes on the board, said the new facility would provide better accommodations for those who use the city clinics. The city paid about $180,000 more than the appraised value of the property, but Rawlings-Blake said the building's rehab plan is more cost-effective than building a new center or revamping the current site.

The Weinberg Foundation, which helped GBMC build the facility, placed restrictions on the building's use, saying it must be used to provide medical care for low-income Baltimore residents.

Dr. Leana Wen, the city's health commissioner, said the clinic would serve the "most vulnerable" residents of Baltimore. She said about 25,000 residents use the city's clinics. Residents will receive immunizations, treatment for sexual transmitted diseases, and health care for dental issues, among other services, she added.

"We identify patients who fall through the safety net, because we are the safety net," Wen said.

The new center is expected to open in the spring of 2016.

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