Give a health-care researcher any ZIP code in Dallas County and she can probably tell you how healthy — or unhealthy — the residents in that area are.
It’s alarming that residents in the high-poverty South Dallas neighborhood near Fair Park have consistently been the county’s most sick for years. This area is home to the county’s highest mortality rate from chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. The rate there is twice the premature death rate of the rest of the county.
Small wonder, given the longstanding lack of doctors and hospitals in the area and the limited transportation options to get to the ones farther away.
That’s why it’s such good news that a Dallas dentist won more than $500,000 last month from The Real Estate Council in a Shark Tank-like investment competition to refurbish Forest Avenue Hospital. Located in the heart of South Dallas, it’s been shuttered for over 30 years.
Dr. Michelle Morgan bought the facility on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with plans for multipurpose medical and urgent care services within the next year.
It can’t come soon enough. It is shameful that for some folks in this city, preventive health care is nonexistent. By the time they get to a doctor — often the emergency room — they’re already suffering from chronic ailments that are in the most expensive stages to treat.
Morgan, who grew up in South Dallas, knows what a lifesaving difference a new medical building can make. “I wouldn’t call it neglect, but there’s a lot to be said and done about the area’s overall health.” – Michelle Morgan. The fact that she’s restoring a piece of Dallas’ history in the process is an added benefit.
Established by a group of black doctors in the early ’60s, Forest Avenue Hospital was created at a time when black doctors couldn’t work in whites-only facilities. Many hospitals at the time simply didn’t admit black patients. South Dallas still needs massive help. But this hospital project is one of several recent promising signs.
We’re glad to see CitySquare’s plans to rehabilitate the old Forest Theater are moving forward. Countless studies have shown that access to performing arts and creative activities can play a pivotal role in boosting the economic prospects of poor communities.
Mix in that some middle-class families are moving back to the area and there’s reason to be optimistic for an upswing. It’s also encouraging that two other finalists in The Real Estate Council’s competition won for redevelopment projects for southern Dallas County: The Dallas Unity got $250,000 to develop affordable single-family houses.
And Burchfield & Partners Inc. received $1.35 million to construct a maintenance and repair hangar at Dallas Executive Airport. But Morgan’s hospital project may have the most potential to transform South Dallas. Getting better access to health care is a matter of life and death.
All of Dallas should be pulling for her success. What they said “I wouldn’t call it neglect, but there’s a lot to be said and done about the area’s overall health.” – Dr. Michelle Morgan.
“She’s going to be participating, not only as the investor and developer, but also as one of the operators in the facility. I feel optimistic. With our help, they can get it done.” – Investor Frank Mihalopoulos, Corinth Properties.