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Medical group that caters to Medicaid plans $5 million facility on West Side

A fast-growing three-year-old health care organization that helps low-income Medicaid patients in Buffalo obtain medical services is seeking to consolidate its administrative and health care workers in a new building to be constructed on the city’s West Side.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, or GBUAHN, wants to build a four-level, 40,000-square-foot medical office building on Seventh Street to house its community health workers, patient advocates, doctors and staff, who are now scattered in several locations around the city. The $5 million project would be located at 505 Seventh St., directly behind the Urban Family Practice facility at 564 Niagara St., which is also run by GBUAHN’s CEO, Dr. Raul Vazquez.

If approved by the city’s Planning Board at its meeting on Monday, officials hope to break ground July 27, with hopes for a spring 2017 completion and opening.

Founded and officially designated in 2013 under the Affordable Care Act, GBUAHN is a Medicaid “health home,” created to work with patients who have at least two chronic illnesses – such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease – or serious mental illnesses, and who need help getting through the health care system to receive care. The program coordinates care, provides transportation and other services, and even helps them find food, clothing and shelter if needed. According to Vazquez, as many as 130,000 of the 204,000 Medicaid recipients in Erie County would qualify for “health home” services.

GBUAHN, itself a partnership of several organizations, is rooted in Buffalo’s poorer neighborhoods. It’s already grown to more than 160 employees, and is adding staff at a rate of about 20 per month, Vazquez said.

GBUAHN says the project – which it calls the largest commercial development in that part of Buffalo in over 25 years – will create up to 100 new jobs, while injecting about $11 million a year into the local economy. The project will be self-funded by GBUAHN and a loan from M&T Bank Corp., without any additional government dollars or incentives. “We’re not asking for handouts,” Vazquez said.