After months of discussion over its lack of space, PCC Community Wellness Center will embark on a construction project to bring a new, more spacious and up-to-date facility to Austin.

The 18,000-square-foot facility will be built at 5425 W. Lake St., just two blocks from the Laramie Green Line station, allowing accessibility for those commuting by train.

It will have 15 exam rooms on the first floor and space on the second floor for administrative services as well as supportive programs such as behavioral health, dental services, and a W.I.C. (Women, Infants, and Children), a nutrition program.

PCC’s Austin Family Health Center, 335 N. Mason Ave., is small, outdated, contains obsolete medical equipment and is in constant need of repairs, a representative said. There are only six exams rooms and space for administrative services and supportive programs are inadequate. Between 200 and 300 new patients contact the center each month seeking health care services. This creates an on-going problem as the center is already operating at full capacity.

“The current facility has no dental program, we have to outsource a dentist on Fullerton for our patients to visit,” said Andrea Taylor, public relations supervisor for PCC. “Obviously this hurts accessibility and it means they often cannot be seen in as timely a fashion as preferred. The new facility will allow us to reach many more in the community. We will be able to double our current capacity.”

In fact, it is projected that the increased space will enable the center to expand the number of patients it serves from an estimated total of 13,000 to over 32,000.

Although the acquisition of the land for the facility has already been financed (PCC bought the land from the City of Chicago for $1 million), there are concerns over funding, which could delay the project.

The total project cost excluding land is nearly $5 million. Most of the money will be garnered from funds raised by PCC; however, the network will require fundraising to finance the facility.

To oversee this aspect of the project, PCC has assembled the Capital Campaign Leadership Committee. The committee will consist of PCC board members, community leaders, and management staff (although names of individuals on the committee have yet to be disclosed). The campaign will be guided by a fundraising consultant with extensive experience in community health center fundraising and capital campaigns.

“We will apply for grants with the City of Chicago,” said Taylor. “We will also conduct fundraisers in the near future although none are planned as of this moment.”

Taylor added that she believes because PCC has a favorable financial standing with the City of Chicago she does not expect any major delays in construction. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and will run on an 18-month schedule.

Its opening is projected for June 2009.

PCC Community Wellness Center is a not-for-profit community health center incorporated in 1992 that operates three health centers in Chicago, three in Oak Park, and one in Melrose Park. In 2006, the organization served over 28,000 individuals providing over 96,000 patient visits. The 2007 operating budget is $13.7 million.