Seattle-based International Community Health Services board members, staff members and City of Shoreline representatives donned hard hats Monday for the groundbreaking and start of demolition of an existing restaurant that will make way for a community health and dental center on Aurora Ave. N.
A need for this type of health center has existed for years and surveys backed that up, but the timing is finally right now.
"We've been planning to do this for a long time but the economy slowed things down," Teresita Batayola, ICHS chief executive officer said. "The general community needs an affordable health care place."
It's expected to be the first community health center in Shoreline when it is slated to open in 2014. ICHS began in Seattle in 1973 to serve Asian Pacific Islanders, but is growing in the Puget Sound region given the increasingly-diverse population and unmet need for quality, multilingual and affordable health care, according to an ICHS press release.
Armilito Pangilinan, a Shoreline resident who serves on the ICHS board, said the idea has been around for about six years and it's "finally happening."
Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan was pleased to see new development in Shorelne that serves a community need.
"I'm excited to see them coming," he said. "I'm excited to see development in Shoreline. They'll be here to serve our community. I think it's awesome. All the infrastructure is in."
A federally-qualified health center, ICHS provides medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services, as well as health education at its sites in the International District and Holly Park. It is the largest Asian Pacific Islander nonprofit health center in Washington state. It serves everyone, especially those in need, the low income, the uninsured, the privately insured, refugees and immigrants.
State Rep. Cindy Ryu, a Shoreline democrat, was on the ICHS Foundation Board and helped the process along since she served on the Shoreline City Council. She said the serving the large Korean population in the South Snohomish County-North King County area was part of the consideration in building it here. Some people have been making three bus transfers to get to Bothell or elsewhere to get services, she said.
Several years ago, ICHS identified North King County as an area with underserved residents, a high need for affordable health care and timely access to services. With the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of thousands of Washington state residents will gain insurance in 2014 and will be seeking health care, according to ICHS.
ICHS bought the land at 16549 Aurora Ave. N. for $1.9 million in May 2012 to build at least a 20,000 square feet multistory, full-service clinic. The total price tag for the project is $8-$10 million, according to Batayola.
The site used to be home to Hong Kong Buffet & Grill.
ICHS paid in cash for the land, and federal and state grants are helping pay for the rest, as well as a good portion of the money being raised from the community.