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Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT. A temporary CommUnityCare Health Center opened in a modular home in Hornsby Bend in 2020. Construction will soon start on a permanent facility.

Construction will soon begin on Central Health’s new clinics in eastern Travis County

Friday, March 18, 2022 by Marisa Charpentier, KUT

Construction will soon start on two new health centers in eastern Travis County aimed at expanding access to underserved communities.

Central Health, Travis County’s health care district, is constructing the health centers in Del Valle and Hornsby Bend. The centers, which are expected to open next year, are part of the agency’s plan to address health care inequities in the county.

“Eastern Travis County has always been historically one of the most underserved parts of our county,” Dr. Charles E. Bell, chairperson of the Central Health Board of Managers, said during a news conference Thursday. “The Del Valle and Hornsby Bend communities are burdened with more disease and lower incomes than Travis County as a whole.”

Central Health has temporary health centers in Del Valle and Hornsby Bend, but the new, larger facilities will replace those.

The Hornsby Bend Health & Wellness Center will be located across from Dailey Middle School at 3700 Gilbert Road and will offer primary care, integrated behavioral health care and some specialty care services. It will also have a community gathering space, with a community room, play areas and green space.

The Del Valle Health & Wellness Center will be located at 7050 Elroy Road, near Popham Elementary School. It will offer primary care, dental care, integrated mental health services and a pharmacy.

Central Health is hosting groundbreaking events in the next couple of weeks, featuring music, barbecue and kids’ activities. The Hornsby Bend event is March 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dailey Middle School. The Del Valle event is April 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 7050 Elroy Road.

Central Health collects property taxes in order to connect low-income and uninsured residents in the county to health care. Residents have long been calling on the public agency to bring increased health care access to Eastern Travis County. This area has higher rates of disease than other parts of the county, and many residents have low incomes. About 21 percent of Hornsby Bend households and 36 percent of Del Valle households are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, according to a demographic report conducted by Central Health. That’s higher than the rate in Travis County as a whole: about 14 percent.

Eastern Travis County lacks many of the resources available in Austin, like major grocery stores and health care facilities. The Covid-19 pandemic only amplified that inequity. The virus has disproportionately impacted Black and Latino communities east of Interstate 35. But when vaccines were first introduced, most clinics offering them were located west of the highway.

“Central Health promised residents better access to general health care, mental and behavioral health services, and dental care and we’re delivering on that promise,” Central Health President and CEO Mike Geeslin said in a press release Thursday. “This is just the beginning – we’re identifying gaps in our health care delivery system and developing solutions to fix those gaps.”

Central Health also has plans to open a third permanent health clinic in Eastern Travis County, in Colony Park, but groundbreaking plans have not yet been announced.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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