When Marti Kubik first visited Roberts Vaux High School’s former building in 2017, she noticed a closed clinic on 23rd and Master streets.
“As we were walking the dusty dark hallways I spotted this clinic in the corner here and asked what they were going to be doing here,” Kubik said.
She talked to the dean of the College of Public Health, Laura Siminoff, and asked about the possibility of starting a nurse-managed clinic in the space.
“And two years later here we are,” Kubik said.
Vaux Community Healthcare Clinic, a clinic in the Roberts Vaux High School building in the Sharswood neighborhood, opened its doors on Sept. 3. The clinic staff is made up of nurse practitioners who are all faculty at the College of Public Health.
“We’re starting at zero with a new clinic and in a space that hasn’t had a health center for seven years, so it really is that sort of reengaging with the community,” Kubik said. “We are here to provide … not just disease but disease prevention, healthy lifestyle support and working with the community on what they identify as needs to address.”
In addition to the community clinic, the Roberts Vaux High School building houses Vaux Big Picture High School, an AmeriCorps collaborative that finds job training for young people, and Clarifi, a financial literacy organization.
Shawn Jackson, a nurse practitioner at the College of Public Health, said the most exciting part of opening the clinic was when her first patient came through the door who had not been seen any healthcare provider in almost 20 years.
“The fact that he’s coming back again within a six-week period and following up with the recommendations, that really was a win for me,” Jackson said.
Sofia Carreno, Vaux’s nurse manager, said that the clinic is important for Sharswood because transportation is an issue within the neighborhood.
The closest clinic is Meade Family Health Center between 18th and Oxford streets, a mile away.
Hugh David Taylor III, who’s lived in the North Philadelphia area for 55 years and works at Philadelphia Housing Authority, said that reaching medical care in the area was a problem.
“Because there is no St. Joe’s University Hospital no more, there’s no Hahnemann, people need something close by to get to for medical purposes,” Taylor said. “Its great, great, especially for the elderly, people don’t have transportation to get to nearby hospitals and clinics.”
It has been exciting to engage with the community, and the conversations she’s been having with residents have been valuable in helping her learn more about the needs of the area, Carreno said.
“A lot of families have had roots in this neighborhood for many, many years and have seen it develop and change, and there’s a lot of pride in this neighborhood and a lot of excitement for what’s ahead,” she said. “Having a successful clinic really comes down to knowing your population and knowing we’ll provide what kind of services outside of general primary care services.”
Jackson hopes the clinic will provide all of the services people may need, like social work and nutritional needs.
Kubik would like to see the clinic become a community clinic and be more than “healthcare as usual.”
“We’re the first step with the college with opening a nurse-managed clinic. We’re excited to be the first,” Kubik said. “It’s been a lot of work, some expected, some unexpected. But every day we’re meeting somebody new [and] it’s personally rewarding and very hopeful.”