A new community health center in Ward 4

One of the interesting findings in our recent Census issue brief was the expansion of the Hispanic community beyond its traditional core in Ward 1, where it actually decreased by 12%. In particular, Ward 4 has seen the largest influx in Hispanic residents over the past decade, with a 54% increase or 5,000 residents. Of course, the Census does not accurately reflect undocumented immigrants or others who may feel intimidated about filling out the government survey, so we can surmise that the Hispanic population is actually much larger in these areas. (Ward 5 and 6 have also seen a surge in their Hispanic populations.)

The point of studying these demographic changes is not simply because it's interesting, but because as a city with such a dynamic population, we need to do a much better job of matching funding and social services to the needs of every community. The most rapidly changing Wards -- 1, 4, 5 and 6 -- might be a good place to start.

Did you know, for instance, that Ward 4 currently has no public health center? That gaping hole will be filled tomorrow, when Mary's Center opens a new location at 3912 Georgia Avenue NW. Mary's Center provides comprehensive, community health services, particuarly maternal and child health. It was founded in 1988 by Maria Gomez to provide prenatal and postpartum care for the primarily Hispanic women of Ward 1, and now serves thousands of families across the D.C. metro area. The Ward 4 center will be the biggest Mary's Center clinic yet, with 22 exam rooms and five dental chairs, as well as new spaces for mental health, adolescent, home visitation, social serices, family literacy and nutrition programs.

Maria has been a powerful voice for D.C.'s immigrant community and low-income mothers, and Mary's Center even drew a visit by Michelle Obama back in 2009. The new clinic will double Mary's Centers capacity to nearly 20,000 patients annually -- that's incredible! We're thrilled for our partners at Mary's Center and for Ward 4 residents. To learn more, visit http://www.maryscenter.org/.