Bon Secours Baltimore Health System has bought a nearby church for $880,000 that it plans to turn into a wellness and primary care center.
The West Baltimore hospital closed a deal with the Archodiocese of Baltimore on Sept. 17 to buy the St. Martin Church at 31 N. Fulton Ave.
As part of a $7 million renovation plan, Bon Secours will transform the 25,000-square-foot church building and adjacent rectory into a facility that takes a holistic approach to health, treating patients' minds, bodies and spirits.
Hospital officials hope the new facility will offer more treatment options to what they says is an underserved community.
The life expectancy of West Baltimore residents is more than a decade shorter than the rest of the state and half of the population suffers from obesity. Residents have among the highest rates in the state for serious chronic diseases. The rate of diabetes i 20 percent in the neighborhood, compared to eight percent statewide.
Social problems contribute to the health issues. The unemployment rate of 24.3 percent is double that of Baltimore City and 37 percent of families in Southwest Baltimore with children under the age of 18 live in poverty.
"Nearly 80 percent of our admissions come through the emergency room because residents in the community do not have access to primary care and wellness services," Dr. Samuel Ross, CEO of Bon Secours Baltimore Health System, said in a statement. "By expanding access to these primary care services we hope residents' health outcomes will improve due to their ability to receive more comprehensive care in one location."
Renovations to the church will begin in early 2016 with completion expected by the end of year.
Merritt Construction Services will renovate the existing church and add two additional floors in the main sanctuary in order to provide the space for Bon Secours' healthcare and community services.
This story will be updated.