In ‘Victory For The Community,’ LES Clinic Reopens

On July 16, the Roberto Clemente Center was inaugurated in a ceremony attended by its board of directors, patients, members of the community and elected officials. (Photo by Pedro Frisneda via El Diario)

A little over a year ago, Puerto Rican-born Lydia Pacheco was very concerned and anxious about the possibility that the Roberto Clemente Center could close forever. For over 35 years, the community health center has been a shelter of sorts for many Lower East Side residents with low incomes, immigrants or uninsured.

Since 1982, the Roberto Clemente Center (RCC), part of NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, has been the only place people like Pacheco have been able to turn to for vital, culturally sensitive primary health services, including mental health. Still, the clinic was about to close for lack of funding and staff, worrying the residents of Loisaida, as the Lower East Side is known to the area’s traditionally Latino – particularly Puerto Rican – population.

However, those gloomy days are over. On Monday, thanks to a renovation and an investment of more than $1 million, the RCC reopened its doors with a new, revitalized look.


“This clinic is vital for us. I have come here with panic attacks and they have seen me immediately and listened to me. (…) Here, they give us the support we need to help us with our problems,” said Pacheco, 62, who suffers from anxiety and depression. She has been using the services of the RCC since 2009.



“We, the residents, have been the voice fighting to keep this center open, and I think we were heard. (…) This is a victory for the community. At least we won one battle,” said Pacheco.

Dr. Mitchell Katz, president of NYC Health + Hospitals – the corporation that supervises the city’s public hospitals – led the reopening ceremony of the RCC, which boasted new facilities and extended services.


Funding for the renovation was granted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the New York City Council.


Among the services offered at the RCC, located at 540 E 13th Street in Manhattan, are primary care, family health, behavioral health, psychiatry, and individual, couples and family therapy. Immunizations, HIV testing and buprenorphine prescriptions – to treat opioid addiction – will also be available.

The RCC serves more than 800 people per year, most of them Hispanic residents of the area.  All its programs and mental health services are 100-percent bilingual in English and Spanish.

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