This past Fri., July 8th, Urban Health Plan (UHP) broke ground on its latest expansion project at 1054 Simpson Street. Once construction is complete, the new facility is expected to provide health care to more than 20,000 South Bronx residents.
The event was a family affair attended by New York State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. and his son, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who called himself “a son of this neighborhood” and referred to Urban Health Plan’s founder, Dr. Richard Izquierdo, as “my doctor.”
“When a young man or young woman can get quality health care, can be able to live healthy lives and one day aspire to be a borough president, that’s what we’re celebrating here,” Diaz Jr. said. He also acknowledged the jobs UHP’s expansion will create, a sentiment echoed by UHP’s President and CEO and Dr. Izquierdo’s daughter, Paloma Hernandez.
“We are a true economic engine in this community,” Hernandez said.
The expansion project was funded by grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Facility Improvement Program, the Bronx Borough President, the New York State Senate, the New York City Council, and New Markets Tax Credits. The new facility will expand Urban Health Plan’s current network of four health centers, five school-based health programs, four part-time locations, and two administrative sites.
Representatives from Goldman Sachs, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Enterprise, and Stonehenge Structured Finance Partners, all of who assisted in the financing of the expansion project, were in attendance at the groundbreaking. New York State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and Angela Fernandez, chief of staff for Congressman Jose Serrano, also participated in the event.
As UHP staff and local leaders donned bright yellow hard hats and picked up shovels to make the groundbreaking official, Dr. Izquierdo chose to commemorate the occasion according to his family’s traditions. He explained that just as his Puerto Rican father had done when he opened his first bodega in the Bronx in the 1930s, he would celebrate UHP’s latest achievement “con un palo de ron.” As the strong scent of rum filled the air and the crowd cheered, Dr. Izquierdo poured a small bottle of rum into the ground, and said, “Over the years, I’ve been to many ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings associated with Urban Health Plan, and I hope to be at many more!”