The new Karabots Pediatric Care Center in West Philadelphia, with 35 doctors, is by far the biggest primary-care office in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia network.

But the $27 million facility at 48th and Market Streets, named for Nicholas and Athena Karabots, who contributed $7.5 million toward the project, aims to be much more than a doctor's office with 56 examination rooms.

The Karabots Center opened in phases last month, combining three West Philadelphia sites. The official ribbon-cutting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Besides the convenience of in-house X-ray and lab facilities, the Karabots Center incorporates behavioral-health services, counseling on domestic violence, some dental care, literacy programs, family planning for teenagers, and Early Head Start for parents and young children.

"We see this as a very good model," Steven M. Altschuler, CHOP's chief executive, said Monday.

"When you think about taking risk for a population of patients, it will require the integration of a lot of services that go beyond medical care. That's what Karabots starts to do," he said.

The "risk for a population" that Altschuler referred to is expected from payment reforms, under which doctors and hospitals will not be paid for specific services, but rather will receive annual flat rates - for the care of a group, for example.

For Nicholas Karabots, a Montgomery County philanthropist who is devoting much of his wealth from printing and publishing to causes for disadvantaged young people, the integration of the center into the community is a given, even though it's not a full-fledged hospital.

"Local hospitals in underserved or bad areas are really a linchpin in the community. They are the ones who see and talk to and try to help the locals deal with their problems, medical but also social," Karabots said.

He recalled the importance of Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx, where he spent his youth as a gang member. He said gang members took care of the hospital because it always took care of them when they got hurt.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell said she is "so grateful to the Karabots for their contribution to make this a reality."

Meg Grant, director of marketing and public affairs for Keystone Mercy Health Plan, which serves Medicaid beneficiaries, said the insurer would use the center for educational programs. "It's a perfect location," she said.

The Karabots Center will not be profitable. Altschuler said it would lose $20 million a year, including the cost of the building, because of its reliance on Medicaid, which does not cover expenses.

Alicia Gresham, director, specialty care and primary-care services, said that 75 percent of patients at three primary-care centers in West and South Philadelphia were on government insurance. Overall, 41 percent of CHOP's business is Medicaid.

For Lisa Biggs, a pediatrician and medical director of primary care for the CHOP Care Network, the Karabots Center is her third location in 20 years, and she is very pleased.

"Every time, you learn more about what your patients need and what works better, how things function," Biggs said.

Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or