Salt Lake Valley Health Department and the University of Utah recently celebrated the opening of their collaborative public health clinic, which focuses on pediatrics and women's health.

Salt Lake Mayor Peter Corroon, U. health officials and a second-grade choir from Woodrow Wilson Elementary School were on hand recently to celebrate the new South Main Public Health Center, at 3690 S. Main.

The U. and the health department joined forces about 20 years ago to offer health-care services "to underserved populations who would otherwise be without services," said Dr. Lorris Betz, U. senior vice president for health sciences. Since then, the program has grown.

Partners include the county health authority, the U.'s Women's and Children's Health Consortium, its departments of pediatrics and OB-GYN and the College of Nursing.

What started out as a smaller program with four residents and a single faculty representative has grown over the years to include 21 residents and a bunch of faculty members and medical students who are involved with the clinic.

In the late 1990s, the U. also started collaborating with another county public health clinic to provide prenatal care with the help of certified midwives. Now that program will be moving into the new clinic, as well, Betz said.

The clinic staff have been able to use grants and donations to add other specialty services, including a pharmacy program to help people without means access medications they need, an early literacy program and more, said Dr. Karen Buchi, a U. professor who is pediatric medical director at the center.

The center also houses a branch of the county library system.

The new clinic, which expects to handle about 42,000 appointments a year, has more than 27,000 square feet, nearly double the size of the previous location. It was designed by architectural firm HHY and Associates and built by Ascent Construction. It's a "green" building that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for high-performance, sustainable construction.

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