SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — In March of 2020, just weeks into the Coronavirus pandemic, the Syracuse Community Health Center was the only place in the region to get tested.
“The line was often wrapped around our building,” said Syracuse Community Health Center President and CEO Mark Hall. “We would see up to 300 people a day. We provided over 55,000 tests to 40,000 individuals again that goes hand in hand with our vision and mission to service the community.”
community. It’s in the center’s name and has continued to be its focus from the beginning. It was first known as the Syracuse Neighborhood Health Center before becoming the Syracuse Community Health Center. It is now designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
“In the 60s, FQHCs were started in response to all of the social unrest that was going on,” Hall explained. “So it was really a means to provide jobs primarily in the black community.”
It is situated at South Salina and East Taylor Streets, on the border of Syracuse’s Southside. Many of the neighbors here and in other sections of the city live at or below the federal poverty level. While it’s not a free clinic, the Syracuse Community Health Center has been the place to serve people who are uninsured.
“There needs to be an agency like this that sees folks for who they are and the importance of who they are and that they deserve to be cared for and loved on,” Hall said.
Hall stresses this health center doesn’t serve just people living in poverty. They see a range of patients from all socioeconomic statuses. He says the patients here are predominantly African American, Hispanic, and of the refugee population. And that is reflected in the providers. While it helps patients to have the people providing their care look like them, the focus is on the relationship built in the exam room.
“We want folks who believe in our mission. We want providers that have a propensity to serve people,” Hall said.
Providers offer a number of services to the people who utilize the Syracuse Community Health Center.
The center has a Pediatric Department. They also provide eye care, podiatry, adult medicine, OB-GYN, radiology, urgent care, and COVID testing.
For Hall, continuing the health center’s mission is not only important because he’s the President and CEO. For him, it’s personal.
“I know what, not just what this health center means to the community, to these neighborhoods. I knew what it meant to me. I came here to receive immunization shots or vaccinations to go to school before school started.”
Mark Hall, Syracuse Community Health Center President and CEO
“I know what, not just what this health center means to the community, to these neighborhoods,” Hall explained. “I knew what it meant to me. I came here to receive immunization shots or vaccinations to go to school before school started.”
He grew up just a couple blocks away on South State Street in what used to be the Mulberry Square housing project. It was torn down in the 90s.
“We were coming to get drinks of water on our way to the basketball court, so it’s really personal in that sense, and I know the value that it brings,” Hall said.
Hall hopes to continue that for the next generation. Pretty soon, the center will move just across the street to a brand new facility at 930 South Salina Street.