San Rafael’s Ritter Center breaks ground on $14.5 million new downtown health center

Ritter Center has started construction on a modern, expanded heath center in downtown San Rafael.

The nonprofit, which provides Marin County people living in poverty with medical care and social services, on Thursday is holding a ground-breaking ceremony at the new location, 800 A St. The new facility is set to open by the end of this year.

CEO Mark Shotwell said organization has outgrown the converted yellow Victorian house at 16 Ritter St., where the organization has operated for 43 years, overflowing into portable buildings there and in the 30 N. San Pedro St. office building. That has resulted in limited office and medical space, no parking, outdated facilities and insufficient interior waiting rooms, according to the nonprofit.

“The new facility will reflect our dedication to providing high-quality services, and our commitment to serve our clients with the utmost respect and dignity that every human deserves,” Shotwell said in a statement. “The new building will also enable us to evolve with the needs of Marin County’s vulnerable children, families, seniors, and individuals experiencing homelessness and economic insecurity.”

The new nearly 14,000-square-foot center will have twice the medical exam rooms, modern health care equipment, dedicated behavioral health rooms, laboratory for onsite testing, treatment room for minor procedures, meditation and lactation room, off-street parking and electric-vehicle chargers.

The organization’s food pantry will have storage for twice as much inventory, a walk-in cooler and freezer, a dedicated entrance, two walk-up windows, space for 10 households to line up inside, and a large workspace for staff and volunteers.

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