Wheeler Health to Purchase Centre Square Property for Flagship Health Center and Corporate Headquarters; $500,000 Fundraising Campaign Announced

More than 200 Employees Will Work at Downtown Location. More than Half of Fundraising Goal Reached.

Helping to anchor the downtown Bristol Centre Square development with professional jobs and accessible health care for the entire community, Wheeler Health is moving forward with a plan to purchase an approximate 1.3-acre lot between North Main and Hope streets, with the intent to build an approximately 46,000-square foot community health center and administrative headquarters, opening in 2023.  

The site will combine many of Wheeler’s administrative departments with a consolidation of its two existing community health centers at 10 and 225 North Main Street. More than 200 full- and part-time employees will work at the new building, which will become the organization’s flagship location. It is Wheeler’s first newly constructed facility since its original location in 1972. 

Most of Wheeler’s administrative staff will move to offices upstairs from the health center, an influx of professional roles into the downtown area. The site will also feature training room space for contracted professional development Wheeler provides statewide, as well for the community as available. 

More than a year in the making, the project has changed in recent months in collaboration with the Bristol Mayor, City Council and the Economic and Community Development team. A larger parcel at Centre Square was originally envisioned, which was not approved in December 2021. Wheeler moved its plans to a smaller parcel, after examining roughly ten other properties nearby and determining that none would meet its needs. With Wheeler’s shift, the city is now able to develop the original parcel for restaurant, retail, and commercial use, and can also pursue a City Green project on the corner of Riverside Avenue and North Main Street. The revised location, plan, and $600,000 purchase price was approved 5-2 by the City Council on Thursday, February 8. 

Wheeler will fund the entire project through a combination of loans, allocations from Wheeler’s endowment, private giving, and public grants. To help support the construction of the center, Wheeler also announced a four-year, $500,000 fundraising campaign.  Through the support of an anonymous donor in Bristol and other local philanthropic investors, the organization has raised nearly $280,000 in gifts and pledges toward the goal at the public launch of the campaign [UPDATE AS OF JULY 2022: $394,000]. The fundraising drive is led by a committee of Wheeler Trustees with ties to the Bristol community, including Chairman Jim Moylan, and expects to exceed its goals within four years through community donations, corporate support, fundraising events, and planned gifts designated for the effort. The Wheeler Board of Trustees has established a $100,000 goal for its members as part of this campaign, which is near goal at launch. 

Wheeler is consolidating services already provided on North Main Street in Bristol to realize its vision of truly integrated primary and behavioral health care under one roof, President and CEO Sabrina Trocchi, PhD, MPA says.  

“Our philosophy and model of care are that the mind and body are one,” she says. “When we opened our first health center in 2013, in Bristol, we were able to accommodate everything at 10 North Main Street. Today, with our patient base growing so much, we sometimes find they have to go to two buildings for care, which is not ideal or convenient. Now, we’ll have our full continuum of services right down the hallway, with a warm handoff of services for the whole family in one place.”  

Services provided at 10 and 225 North Main Street include adult primary care, pediatrics, behavioral health and psychiatry, addiction treatment, nutrition, LGBTQIA-responsive services, and more, for all ages. In addition, Wheeler provides school-based behavioral health clinics in every Bristol Public School, a service that Trocchi says has seen 146% growth since 2019 with the mental health issues related to COVID and return to in-person school.  

“There are dramatic unmet needs across our state. In Bristol alone, in the last few months, we’ve seen nearly 300 new referrals in our school-based health centers,” she said. “Community health centers like Wheeler serve 30 million Americans every year. We’re on the front lines to ensure high-quality health care is accessible, equitable, and affordable for everyone.” 

Wheeler will continue to make ongoing referrals for specialty services like oncology and dental care to Bristol Health and other local providers. 

A groundbreaking ceremony is expected in the spring, with an opening planned for spring 2023. 

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