Whole Austinite Care

New female-founded wellness facility in East Austin tackles health inequity

New East Austin community wellness center tackles health inequity

A rendering of the Karisha campus: a concrete courtyard and a wood-paneled building, with a tree in the center and people walking through.
Whole person care is key at Karisha Community Center for Wellness, breaking ground in 2022. Rendering courtesy of Karisha

Wellness as a 21st century concept comes loaded with stereotypes, many of those about how wealthy a person must be to access increasingly basic care. East Austin’s Karisha Community Center for Wellness is addressing this disparity head-on, announcing a $1 million community crowdfunding campaign to redistribute opportunity and build a new community wellness facility.

The 14,800-square-foot space is planned at the corner of 51st Street and Springdale, a notable juxtaposition with the Dollar General across the street. Renderings show a sleek wood paneled complex that mirrors the style of many of the newer homes in the area. A video by Karisha shares a statistic that “residents on the east side of Austin live 10 to 22 years less than their west side counterparts” (citing 2017 data from the Texas Department of State Health Services).

Karisha emphasizes health care over “sick care,” a reactive process that treats illness as it arises instead of preventing it. The public benefit corporation (a for-profit owned by shareholders and tied to a stated goal) doesn’t depart entirely from traditional Western medicine, but it does include whole person care, which acknowledges mental and other areas of health as well as body health.

“Our purpose is to foster the innate human capacity to love, heal, and thrive, and that requires a village,” said Karisha CEO and founder Amina Haji. “That’s why we are inviting everyday people to invest and raise $1 million to bring us to the next stage in completing our mission of bringing holistic health care to Austin.”

Once complete, the center hopes to service 4,000 East Austinites, with or without insurance, with the option to join a membership program. Along with the visiting spaces most patients expect at a doctor’s office, it encompasses a “healing kitchen,” a physical training space, meditative gardens, and more community spaces. It will employ four primary care physicians, an acupuncturist, a nutritionist, a mindfulness instructor, and other practitioners.

Development is moving quickly, as Karisha already owns an acre and a half of land, has secured building permits, and has raised $3 million. Later this summer, it will offer hybrid care at a satellite location, and break ground for the main project sometime during the third quarter of 2022.