Nobody really likes going to the dentist’s office or getting blood drawn, but now that the Premier HealthCare facility on 3060 East Tremont has reopened, those uncomfortable trips will be a little bit easier for those living with developmental disabilities.
On Thursday, October 28, officials with YAI Network, which provides care for developmentally disabled people and oversees Premier HealthCare, cut the ribbon on a newly renovated facility that tripled the space.
“The beauty of the program is to show what has been done. It’s an incredible change,”YAI chief operating officer Stephen Freeman said. “Having a facility like this, where all the doctors are working together, it’s a dream come true.”
Before the renovations, the complex had one dental facility and two primary care facilities. Today it has five medical and two dental stations, plus a variety of speech, psychology and other specialized practices.
According to officials, the enlarged space can accommodate triple the clients.
In the past year it handled about 3,000 patients and not all of them came in willingly, said Evelyn Magadaleno, assistant director at YAI.
“Most people don’t like going to the dentist. It can be pretty intrusive, so that’s why we have desensitizing programs where the patients get to come in the room, sit in the chair without getting a procedure or just playing with the instruments,” she said. “It helps them relax and to get comfortable.”
The YAI Network consists of seven not-for-profit health and human services agencies that provide an array of programs for people with developmental and learning disabilities and their families.
While it began serving only the youth, today it serves people of all ages – more than 20,000patients in the metropolitan area.
According to Freeman it is the only facility that allows doctors from a range of practices to work together on a patient so they can get focused care.
“What you’re doing is so important and it’s a precursor to what health care will be,” said Ronda Kotelchuck, executive director of the Primary Care Development Corporation. “It’s going to be an integrated system and now we will see others follow down the path you created.”
The PCDC provided most of the funding for the new facility, with a $164,500 grant and a roughly $1.5 millionloan.
While Kay Peck-Maxwell, whose brother Frank was diagnosed with autism about 15 years ago, has been coming to YAI facilities in the Bronx for about 10 years, the expanded services means she will no longer have to make different appointments in different locationsso her brother can get basic care.
“We come here and it is hectic, but the staff is just phenomenal,” she said. “Of course you saved the best for last with this building. I get so much support it’s just overwhelming.”