Former American House at 354 Penn Street across the street from the John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne
Three-year pledge to retrofit new health center in former American House
The Wyomissing Foundation pledged a $300,000 grant to fund Alvernia University's collaborative venture with Berks Community Health Center (BCHC) to address the increased need for primary care services in downtown Reading by establishing a new state-of-the-art, comprehensive health center location in the former American House on 354 Penn Street.
“The Wyomissing Foundation's continued commitment allows us to take yet another step forward in the Reading CollegeTowne initiative through this synergistic approach to community health with our partner BCHC,” said Alvernia President Glynis A. Fitzgerald, Ph.D. “This grant will be instrumental in equipping the new health center with cutting-edge technology and resources, allowing our students to engage in hands-on experiential learning alongside the established healthcare professionals at BCHC while serving our community.”
The City of Reading residents are at risk of negative health outcomes due to elevated levels of poverty, traditionally marginalized populations, language and cultural barriers, and limited access to primary care services. The building’s first and second floors will be renovated to meet the critical need for primary care services and equip BCHC to offer comprehensive wrap-around services, including nutrition and wellness education, mental health services, financial literacy education, social services assistance, and warm hand-off referrals. This site will also host clinical experiential learning opportunities for Alvernia’s healthcare, clinical counseling, and social work students. During the first year of operation, the new BCHC location is slated to serve over 2,000 unduplicated individuals.
“The Wyomissing Foundation is proud to support this project as it combines the missions, talents and expertise of two high-performing organizations, in one location, with a common purpose, that will create a win-win situation, for patients, students and our community for years to come,” said President of the Wyomissing Foundation, Pat Giles.
Established in 2012, BCHC has made significant progress to promote community health and wellness within the City of Reading, Berks County’s largest urban area, at its four established locations. With successful fundraising as a part of the university's Partners in Progress campaign, the new location will open in spring 2025.
In addition to the clinic, the third and fourth floors will be renovated to provide additional business incubator space for the O’Pake Institute for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship and retail space for local businesses, including Artisan Smiles, a dentist currently located in the building.
Alvernia’s purchase of the former American House facility was finalized in June 2022 as part of the university’s second phase of the Reading CollegeTowne initiative. The second phase is highlighted by the expanding the university’s renowned health science programs. It includes renovating the vacant second and third floors of the John R. Post Center to allow expanded academic programming space for the university’s newly added Physician Associate Program and the nationally ranked nursing programs in the John and Karen Arnold School of Nursing. The renovation of the Post Center also includes additional student housing on the fourth and fifth floors to allow more students to learn and live in downtown Reading.