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'Onion' looks like 'Orchid' to local community health center

FHCSD picks up two Onion Awards at annual ceremony

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Family Health Centers of San Diego accepted two Onion Awards from the San Diego Architectural Foundation at the 2012 Orchids and Onions Ceremony on Oct. 11. The awards recognize the architecture of the new City Heights Family Health Center located at 5454 El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego.

Orchids & Onions is an annual program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation geared toward drawing attention to San Diego's built environment. Each year, a jury of design professionals and artists is selected to determine the official Orchids & Onions based upon public submissions in different categories. Orchid recipients have garnered the judges highest praise and onion awards are designated for buildings the judges felt could have been "improved upon."

"We couldn't be more pleased that they are recognizing our health center for these awards," said Fran Butler-Cohen, CEO of Family Health Centers of San Diego. "The fact that this corner is being recognized for architecture rather than crime is a testament to the positive affect our building is already having on the community."

The site on which City Heights Family Health Center currently sits was formerly a plasma donation center. According to community members, who have welcomed the new health center, the dilapidated old building attracted a variety of unsavory characters and associated crimes. The building that housed the plasma donation center was razed to make room for the new three story primary care clinic.

"We love our new health center and are very proud of it," said Butler-Cohen. "We aimed to fill every square inch of that property with caring, affordable, high quality health care and support services and we did just that."

Family Health Centers of San Diego

The health center design incorporated input from local neighbors as well. Privacy was a top priority for both sides resulting in the unique windows on the rear and side of the building that allows for natural light, but prohibits anyone from looking in or out of exam rooms.

City Heights Family Health Center was relocated to the new building from a small store front location one block away. Since that time, FHCSD has nearly doubled the number of patients it cares for daily and expects that number to increase as additional services come online.

"You can call it an onion and even give it an award, but to Family Health Centers of San Diego and the thousands of people we serve, it is, and always will be an orchid."

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