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Catholic Charities to open clinic in former Buffalo church

Catholic Charities will be getting a new medical screening clinic for its West Side “immigration campus,” as the nonprofit works with a developer to convert a portion of a former church to a new use.

McGuire Development Co. is working with the nonprofit to build the clinic inside the former Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church at 20 Herkimer St. in Buffalo. The developer will use about 5,000 square feet of the 9,000-square-foot Italian-style church for the clinic and related offices, while the front portion will become community and meeting space.

Work has already begun on the $1 million project, which is expected to wrap up by December.

“It’s a really cool reuse of a church building,” said McGuire Development President James Dentinger, noting that most church buildings are either reused as religious facilities or converted to apartments.

Catholic Charities bought the former church building, rectory and parochial school after the church closed, and is already using the rectory as office space and an immigrant processing center, while the school is used for teaching English and other classes for adults. Until now, the church was used for storage of mattresses, furniture and other items. The renovation will maintain many aspects of the church’s architecture and design, Dentinger said.

In recent years, Buffalo has become a destination for new immigrants from Africa, Burma and other impoverished or war-torn areas of the world. The immigrants typically come through New York City, and are then sent to cities like Buffalo for resettlement by agencies such as Catholic Charities.

But while its processing operation and related offices have already been at the Nativity campus, the nonprofit lacked medical facilities, so it has usually sent the immigrants off-site to clinics or hospitals in the Southtowns or South Buffalo for health screening.

Under the new system, Catholic Charities linked up with Mobile Healthcare Connections, located in the Innovation Center on Ellicott Street, to create an onsite medical clinic, where immigrants can also become comfortable and familiar with the doctors, who will also offer primary and possibly dental care at the same facility.