Zuckerberg Donates $5 Million to EPA Health Center

The donation was announced as ground was broken for the new facility.

An illustration of the new Ravenswood Family Health Center. (Illustration Credit: Ravenswood Family Health Center)
An illustration of the new Ravenswood Family Health Center. (Illustration Credit: Ravenswood Family Health Center)

Community leaders and dignitaries came together Wednesday afternoon to break ground on East Palo Alto's Ravenswood Family Health Center, a federally qualified nonprofit community health center that aims to serve 22,000 low-income residents of the city.

Once completed in the spring of 2015, the new center will be a two-story, 38,000-square-foot facility on a 3.15-acre parcel at Bay and Pulgas roads in East Palo Alto.

The service capacity will change from its current 11,000 patients to 22,000 with space for as many as 25,000, according to Ravenswood Family Health Center CEO Luisa Buada.

The new state-of-the-art facility will support primary care services with 58 exam rooms, provide 13 behavioral health-counseling rooms and include a laboratory, imaging and mammography, as well as optometry and pharmacy services.

The event marks the beginning of a long-sought dream for many, who in 2001 pulled together both intellectual and financial resources to open a small clinic, which soon became an integral part of the underserved community's hope and health.

U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier, 14th District, and Anna Eshoo, 18th District, were both in attendance to salute the team of donors, staff, supporters "dreamers and problem-solvers" for their hand in making the health care facility a reality.

"This clinic has always provided first-class services and now you will have the first-class facility to do it in and that is something to be very, very excited about," Speier said. "There are times when a community shines and those when they burst with energy -- this is one of those moments."

Calling the endeavor a "faith-based organization," Eshoo said, "they had faith that they would make it and they would."

Eshoo said the original clinic opened its doors on Dec. 23, 2001, with 13 employees. "The staff, services and clients were added at a breakneck speed. There was such an overwhelming need in the community and it was beginning to be met."

Through the years, the clinic added additional services. In 2012, Ravenswood was chosen to receive $7.3 million to fund a collaborative project with San Mateo County. 

On Wednesday, Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson announced that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have agreed to give the Ravenswood $5 million toward closing the construction gap.

"(Zuckerberg and Chan) have been involved with this project since July of last year and they are very involved in any and all opportunities to solve and better the community," Carson said. "Never doubt what leadership and vision can accomplish together," he said.

In 2013, Ravenswood Family Health Center provided 58,144 visits to 11,617 patients. Of those patients, 86 percent live at 100 percent of federal poverty level, which sets an average household income at $23,550. 

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