WORTHINGTON, MA –Hilltown Community Health Center (HCHC) was been awarded $1.25 million this week by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the expansion of services in its existing sites and the development of a new health center site in Amherst. With these funds, HCHC will be able to expand its dental program, increase the capacity of its Health Wise program and its electronic health record system, and eventually serve an additional 2,700 patients in the Pioneer Valley.
“This is a very exciting time at HCHC, as we expand our ability to serve our existing and new patients at our four sites in the Hilltowns, as well as develop a new site to serve the Pioneer Valley,” says Eliza Lake, HCHC’s Executive Director. “HCHC’s mission is to provide accessible, culturally competent, and affordable health care to the residents of the region, and we are thrilled that all of our hard work is being recognized with the award of this funding.”
The new funding, which came in the form of two grants, includes $256,000 that will be used to buy dental equipment for a new dental operatory at the Worthington Health Center and to pay for some of a dentist’s hours. It will also be used to buy equipment for the very successful Gator Grins program located at Gateway Regional School District; through the purchase of two more dental chairs and other supplies, Gator Grins will be able to serve adults and older students more efficiently, as well as expand their mobile efforts into other towns in the region. The Health Wise program, which provides chronic disease self-management and health maintenance support through Community Health Workers, will be able to increase its staffing at its site in Huntington. And finally, HCHC will use some of the funds to support improvements and training for staff on its electronic health record, allowing for better integration of health information and data collection. This will enable the organization to take advantage of the incentives available for health providers who can prove that they have good quality outcomes.
“The HCHC Board is thrilled to have received these significant grants, and is pleased that HRSA views the HCHC as a valuable effort worthy of substantial support,” says HCHC Board President, Diane Brenner. “We want to thank our Executive Director, Eliza Lake, the staff at the HCHC, as well as the numerous individuals and groups in Amherst who have had the vision and patience to work so hard to bring this project to fruition. This funding represents an important opportunity to extend the HCHC’s mission of providing accessible, affordable health care to all who need it, and the HCHC Board will continue to work in whatever way we can to help ensure its success.”The satellite location, which will be called the Pioneer Valley Health Center (PVHC), will be located in the Town of Amherst’s Bangs Community Center. It will provide integrated primary medical and dental health care to area residents, regardless of their ability to pay, using the patient-centered model of care that HCHC currently offers at its four other sites.
The PVHC will serve the unserved and underserved populations in the Pioneer Valley and is projected to eventually serve approximately 2,700 patients annually. It will increase access to affordable care for vulnerable populations, including: uninsured and underinsured individuals and families; veterans; homeless individuals; new Americans; undocumented residents; and seasonal workers. The patient revenue generated will add to HCHC’s total patient revenue without generating substantial additional cost. The PVHC is projected to open and begin serving patients in mid-2017.
“HCHC has been working with the committed members of the Amherst community, who have been collaborating for over 20 years on solutions to the gaps in access to medical and dental care.” says Lake. “They have identified a substantial need for medical and dental services, and we are happy that HCHC will be able to help meet those needs.” Joanne Marqusee, President and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, which has given HCHC a grant that will support preliminary PVHC’s operating costs, says “”This is really great news. I’m so proud we’re working with HCHC and the Amherst community to make this important project a reality.”