BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — A new healthcare center has opened its doors on Buffalo’s west side. Neighborhood Health Center celebrated its grand opening of its latest facility on Niagara Street on Thursday.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for the neighborhood,” said Director of Public Health Merlyn Hammer. “Having this new site open up I think provides some additional access to families who need it.”

“This target area does have a lot of patients who just can’t get access to a doctors office and also have difficulty with transportation and we’ve been really welcomed since we’ve opened our doors,” said Joanne Haefner, who’s the president and CEO of Neighborhood Health Center.

The building on Niagara street was an empty warehouse until the center took it over in 2020 and began work on renovations. The healthcare center offers services including internal and family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health and a pharmacy.

“Primary care allows us to be able to prevent any large issues from developing or happening and then to maintain the health that we have already,” Hammer said. “I think having a primary care office like this one allows us to be able to do that in a way that’s consistent.”

Healthcare officials say twenty percent of west side residents do not have a primary care provider, and opening this facility is a step toward changing that.

“I think one of the things that we know and that goes into preparation in opening buildings like this is saying that we know the community needs it,” Hammer said. “So being here opening up a center is our job and our responsibility . We’re down the street from many folks who are accessible via car, bus, walking if you want to.”

The new location already serves more than 4,000 patients in need of quality and affordable healthcare.

Neighborhood Health Center has six locations in total, three others are located in the city, one in Blasdell and another in Hamburg.

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.