Sayre Health Center in West Philadelphia to Be Named In Honor of Late Penn Physician Bernett L. Johnson Jr.

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Media Contact:Julie McWilliams | | 215-898-1422March 24, 2010


PHILADELPHIA –- Sayre Health Center is a full-service, primary care health facility at the rear of Sayre High School, 59th and Walnut streets, that has been serving the needs of residents of West Philadelphia since the fall of 2007. On Tuesday, March 30, the health center will become the Dr. Bernett L. Johnson Jr. Sayre Health Center in ceremonies designed to honor the vision and legacy of the man behind its founding.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, in the gymnasium of Sayre High School.

The late Dr. Johnson was the founding co-chair of the center’s board of directors and the leader who rallied community, the Philadelphia School District and University of Pennsylvania partners to make this project a reality. Before his death in 2009, he was a professor of dermatology and pathology at Penn's School of Medicine and former chief medical officer at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Johnson dedicated himself to the development of this primary health center that links the resources of the University and the school district with those of the West Philadelphia community. His vision gave the Health Center a unique mission: providing both education and high quality clinical care.

During the ceremonies, Dr. Johnson’s friends and family will celebrate his life and talk about his contributions to the West Philadelphia community, while the center’s community partners will recommit to his vision of providing affordable healthcare and educational opportunities to all.

A scholarship in his honor will be awarded to a Sayre High School student or graduate as well as a ribbon- cutting ceremony with refreshments to follow.

The center delivers the much-needed medical care, support and referral services every month to more than 300 patients from surrounding neighborhoods. Currently, the center has two full-time physicians working with support staff to provide this full-range of primary care.

Perhaps more importantly, Dr. Johnson ensured the center’s unique educational focus. A consummate educator, Dr. Johnson won Penn’s 1997 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the 2007 Walter R. Nickel Award, the highest teaching award granted by the American Society of Permapathology.

Sayre Health Center continues to honor his love of teaching by providing Sayre High School students the opportunity for a community clerkship rotation and enabling Penn students to acquire internship experiences.

People interested in attending the March 30 event should email Cory Bowman at