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Hospice unit in Fruit Belt to convert to health clinic

An eight-bed Hospice Buffalo inpatient unit in the city’s Fruit Belt neighborhood will be converted into a community health care clinic and physicians group practice, according to plans announced by St. John Baptist Church and its community development corporation.

The unit at 111 Maple Ave. opened in 2008 as a collaboration between Hospice Buffalo and St. John Baptist Church to offer end-of-life care to minority populations traditionally under served by Hospice. The inpatient unit is leased by Hospice Buffalo and offers acute, short-term care to patients.

The new facility will focus on providing preventive care and treatment of diseases common to people of color and children, the Rev. Michael Chapman, pastor and CEO of St. John Baptist and its Fruit Belt Community Development Corporation, said in a statement.

Hospice patients who now would receive care at the Maple Avenue unit will be accommodated at Hospice Buffalo’s Cheektowaga inpatient unit or at one of its partner, long-term-care sites in Erie County, so access to care won’t be affected, said Patricia Ahern, CEO of the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Hospice Buffalo’s parent. If needed, Hospice Buffalo will provide transportation for families of patients staying at the Cheektowaga inpatient unit.

Hospice Buffalo will continue to offer palliative care consultations at the Maple Avenue unit, and workers in the unit will be offered positions elsewhere within the agency.

The development corporation and Hospice Buffalo are negotiating over terms and conditions related to the hospice unit’s lease. The St. John Baptist statement did not say when the clinic and doctor’s office is expected to open.