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MassDevelopment Provides $250,000 to Ten Community Health Centers

April 18, 2012

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077

MassDevelopment has provided nearly $250,000 to 10 community health centers across Massachusetts through the Community Health Center Grant Program, helping these organizations complete a wide range of capital improvement projects to improve patient care. The program offers grants of up to $25,000 each to community health centers for projects including construction; renovation; and equipment, furniture, and technology upgrades. Funded projects ranged from backing a women's and maternal healthcare program to expanding dental services.

“Thousands of Massachusetts residents depend on our community health centers for high-quality, low-cost care,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “These funds will help a critical component of the Commonwealth's healthcare sector to serve more patients more effectively.”

The grant program came from the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority Charitable Trust (HEFA) that MassDevelopment has continued since the 2010 merger of HEFA into MassDevelopment. MassDevelopment has other financing options available to community health centers that include TechDollars, a special loan program to help all nonprofits purchase and install technology equipment.

Grants went to the following centers:

Bowdoin Street Health Center, Boston: $24,575
The Bowdoin Street Health Center is converting existing offices in Dorchester to five fully-equipped exam rooms as part of its expansion project. Grant funds will furnish four of those exam rooms with all needed equipment. The expansion project will enable Bowdoin Street to add a primary care physician and serve up to 2,000 additional patients annually while improving quality and shortening wait times. The Center currently serves 11,000 patients through more than 45,000 annual visits.

“Community health centers deliver care to some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Adela Margules, Executive Director of the Bowdoin Street Health Center. “We do that with great efficiency and compassion. Across Massachusetts, our facilities are in need of capital improvements and new or replacement equipment to expand our reach. This grant program, from MassDevelopment, is an important partnership to fulfill those needs and we are grateful for the support. These grants enable us to continue to meet our mission.”

East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Boston: $25,000
The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) will use the grant to purchase a digital panoramic imaging system, called the Orthopantogram OP30, for its growing pediatric dental practice. The system shows dentists a full view of the mouth. The pediatric dental clinic will move to EBNHC’s new 49,000-square-foot facility this spring; its current location, built in 1913, has not been upgraded in nearly a century. Fifty-eight percent of East Boston residents reported seeing a dentist last year, compared to a 75 percent average in Boston. EBNHC serves more than 54,000 patients annually.

Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, Worcester: $24,074
Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center is implementing a new electronic health record system called NextGen. The Center will use the grant to train its staff as “superusers” of the system, purchasing training laptops, projecters, training table tops, and interactive whiteboards to create better learning environments. This equipment will allow the Center to train more than 300 staff members over one to two months. Laptops will also help with emergency preparedness, as staff can deploy to other locations and still be connected. Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center served over 24,000 people in 2011.

“The improvement of technology at the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center is a critical piece of our strategic plan. This grant allows further progress on our goal to build an information technology infrastructure designed to improve patient care and safety, support operations and measure performance,” said Toni McGuire, President and CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Lawrence: $25.000
The Greater Lawrence Family Health Center will open a new site on Lawrence General Hospital’s campus to reduce the number of patients presenting in the emergency room for non-emergency care. This expansion includes renovation, equipment, furniture, and the utilization of electronic medical records technology to ensure care continuity. Primary care at the site, such as preventative education and routine check-ups, can regulate and limit the onset of chronic disease symptoms and reduce preventative emergency room visits. The Health Center has grown from one exam room where 10 employees cared for 3,000 patients to a facility that serves 45,000 annually.

“We are grateful to MassDevelopment for their generosity in funding our newest site located within Lawrence General Hospital,” said Bob Ingala, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. “Reducing unnecessary emergency room visits improves patient health outcomes and reduces health care costs. These funds will help us meet that challenge.”

Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, New Bedford: $25,000
The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center (GNBCHC) is building a women’s and maternal health care program, and the grant will add to other financing sources to fund the project fully. The Center already has the space – and much of the equipment and furniture – for this program, and will renovate the area to meet the needs of the program and its patients. Those changes include building four exam rooms and a waiting room, and renovating two procedure rooms, two maternal healthcare consultation rooms, and three offices. The new program will allow more women to receive healthcare services than the more than 400 pregnant women who already visit GNBCHC each year. The Center serves more than 25,000 patients annually. As part of the project, GNBCHC will add two family medical providers and two registered nurses to support them.

“We are pleased and grateful to receive funding for our new Women’s Health Care program,” said Peter Georgeopoulos, President and CEO of the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center. “The grant will help us to provide gynecological and maternal health care services to many more women in our community.”

Hilltown Community Health Centers, Worthington: $25,000
The Hilltown Community Health Centers (HCHC) will use this grant to replace dental equipment and continue to provide dental services in Worthington. HCHC will also install a “tight tank” as part of the replacement, an underground tank that keeps dental materials from leeching into the surrounding environment. The rest of the grant will update the Center’s outdated telephone system. HCHC serves about 8,000 people annually in the hill towns of western Massachusetts, where many people lack access to qualified primary and dental care.

“I am grateful that the MassDevelopment support will allow us to operate our dental clinic in a ‘green’ fashion and that the new telephone system will replace one nearly 30 years old, which was more suitable for an era when we had half the number of rural patients we have now,” said Edward Sayer, Executive Director of Hilltown Community Health Centers.

Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center, Boston – $25,000
The Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center will use its grant to upgrade its information technology infrastructure, which includes purchasing a new server and upgrading the memory of two existing servers. Those improvements will increase processing power by 30 percent, enhancing performance of the electronic health record system. Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center’s database will benefit from the added memory as the number of patients increases and the Center adopts electronic dental records. Founded in 1974, the Health Center serves almost 12,000 patients a year.

“We thank MassDevelopment for providing critical funding and investment to our Health Center so we can work toward achieving Meaningful Use and provide state-of-the-art, patient-centered care to our patients,” said Elizabeth Browne, Executive Director of the Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center.

Lynn Community Health Center, Lynn – $25,000
Lynn Community Health Center recently completed a three-story expansion project that includes a new dental clinic. The new clinic doubles the health center’s capacity to address the oral health needs of the community, increasing the number of dental operatories from six to 12. Grant funds will equip one of these operatories with a dental chair package, dental X-ray machine, and operatory equipment. The new dental clinic will allow the health center to serve 4,800 new patients that currently cannot access oral health care. The Lynn Community Health Center provides comprehensive health care to more than 36,000 individuals, more than a third of Lynn residents. The new expansion facility was financed in part by an $11.5 million financing package provided by MassDevelopment in 2010.

“MassDevelopment has been a champion of the Lynn Community Health Center for many years,” said Lori Abrams Berry, Executive Director of the Lynn Community Health Center. “We truly appreciate its longstanding commitment to community health care. These funds will help us complete a much needed expansion of our dental clinic. Until now we were confined to a small storefront with only six operatories. Patients experienced long waits and difficulty getting appointments. This is a major improvement that will help us meet the critical need for accessible dental services in our city.”

Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center, Hyannis – $25,000
Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center (MUCCHC), the largest safety net provider of dental services on Cape Cod, will use grant proceeds to purchase new dental equipment for one of its dental rooms. MCCHC and its satellite site, Ellen Jones Community Dental Center in Harwich, operate six dental rooms and are expanding to 10. The two sites, which handled more than 26,000 dental visits last year, employ 12 dentists and seven hygienists.

“Since the opening of the Ellen Jones Community Dental Center in 2000 and the Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center in 2003, we have provided over 170,000 dental visits to our patients,” said David Reidy, Executive Director of the Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center. “This grant will allow us to update and replace some of our equipment to continue to effectively and efficiently provide dental services on Cape Cod to our patient population.”

South End Community Health Center, Boston – $25,000
The South End Community Health Center (SECHC) will use its grant to purchase dental equipment for one of its operatories in the Dr. Gerald Hass Center for the Blackstone Elementary School-Based Health Program. SECHC will open the school-based health program to serve its 569 students in kindergarten through fifth grade and will serve members of the public year round. The Health Center faces significant demand for dental services, with waiting time at three months. SECHC serves 15,000 patients annually.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to expand our dental services for children at the school-based health program and the families in our community. Providing families with access to preventative dental care without a long wait time will ensure the overall health of children,” said, Robert Johnson, President/Chief Executive Officer of South End Community Health Center.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2011, MassDevelopment financed or managed more than 300 projects generating investment of $3.8 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 10,000 jobs (2,547 permanent and 8,129 construction), and build or rehabilitate more than 1,000 residential units.