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Ground breaks on construction of Caring Health Center

Date: 10/11/2011

Oct. 10, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said the state’s support of the $18 million renovation of the former Hampden Furniture Building on Main Street into a new facility for the Caring Health Center is “an important message.”

“We are reaffirming our commitment to growing and re-building here,” he said during a brief ceremony that marked the official start of the construction work.

Murray added, “Government can help make strategic investments, but ultimately it’s the private sector and non-profits that drive the bus.”

What concerns the Patrick Administration now, Murray explained, is the impact federal budget cuts will have on projects either currently underway or planned by the state. He said “draconian” cuts proposed by the budget crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan in the support of healthcare, the defense industry and transportation infrastructure could amount to $100 million annually to Massachusetts.

“It’s a concern,” Murray said.

He said state and federal governments must be “disciplined” in order to react to the recession and to the national deficit, while at the same time, create jobs.

He said the Patrick Administration will continue to support economic developments such as this one and noted that projects in Springfield such as the renovation of Union Station still have state support.

Murray said the Caring Health Center project will employ between 60 to 80 people during the construction phase and will create 120 permanent jobs.

Caring Health Center President and Chief Executive Anne Awad said she had signed an agreement that only union labor will be used for the renovation.

The first part of the Caring Health Center project will be to repair the damage the building sustained during the tornado and to winterize the building. The three-building complex suffered more than $1 million in damages from the tornado.

Once completed, the buildings will house the center’s medical and dental offices as well as contain a community wellness center for education and prevention efforts, a teaching kitchen and a pharmacy.

Caring Health Center treats almost 14,000 patients a year with 48,000 annual visits. According to press materials it is the second largest provider of health services to immigrants in Massachusetts.

“This new facility not only will allow us to expand our health care services to an underserved portion of our population, but it will act as a catalyst to the expansion of other economic opportunities for businesses in the South End,” Awad said.

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