For the last 12 years, the ETSU College of Nursing has provided medical care for Johnson City’s homeless at a Day Center at 202 W. Fairview Ave. On Feb. 2, the university broke ground on a new Day Center on the same property.

The new 4,365-square-foot facility will be made possible by a $1 million federal grant from Health Resources and Services Administration. The new building will feature more space for medical, behavioral and social health services as well as improved medical equipment and resources.

Mountain States Health Alliance, who donated the land for the new center, is partnering with ETSU on the project. At the groundbreaking ceremony, MSHA president and CEO Alan Levine spoke at the event.

“We’re proud to partner with ETSU in this endeavor, which will provide services to improve the health and wellbeing of our area’s homeless population,” he said. “We recognize that concerns like food, housing, literacy and employment are all linked to health, and this day center will offer a comprehensive approach to addressing these issues for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Currently, the Day Center serves more than 11,000 homeless people annually. That includes more than 300 primary care and mental health care appointments. With the new center, ETSU hopes to increase the number of individuals served by 150 percent.

Wilsie Bishop, vice president for Health Affairs at ETSU spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony as well.

“Through the creation of this new facility, we aim to take a holistic approach to improving the lives of the homeless population of our region,” Bishop said. “We will increase our level of services by providing health care and social services five days a week, which will allow for onsite medical testing and improving the basic needs of these individuals–everything from laundry and shower facilities to recovery programs and life skills training.”

Due to the constant need for the services the Day Center provides, the current Day Center will remain open during the construction of the new center.

“There is obviously a growing need for these services and the ETSU College of Nursing is proud to have helped provide healthcare to the underserved of the region since the 1990s,” said Wendy Nehring, dean of the College of Nursing. “Through our new Day Center and our 12 other nurse-led clinics throughout the region, we will continue to offer these essential services to many of the people who truly need them the most.”