Community Health Centers Service One-Fifth of Cape Codders

Heidi Nelson, CEO of Duffy Health Center leads the discussion at a session for legislators to hear from the directors of community health centers on the Cape and Islands.

Heidi Nelson, CEO of Duffy Health Center leads the discussion at a session for legislators to hear from the directors of community health centers on the Cape and Islands.

HYANNIS – Community health centers are growing on the Cape and Islands. That was one message yesterday as the leaders of five community health centers met with the Cape’s legislative delegation.

The session took place at Duffy Health Center on Main Street in Hyannis.

“Our theme was really to talk about innovation and how community health centers are helping to transform the health care system,” Duffy Health Center CEO Heidi Nelson said.

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One out of every five Cape Codders is served by a community health center, according to Nelson.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of growth over the last five years in the five health centers that serve Cape Cod and the Islands. Our total patient population now is somewhere between 40,000 and 45,000 people,” she said.

The Cape & Islands community health centers include Community Health Center of Cape Cod, Duffy Health Center, Harbor Health Center – Hyannis, Island Health Care, and Outer Cape Health Services.

Among the roles of the centers is to sign people up for health insurance.

About 98 percent of people in Massachusetts are covered by health insurance, but on the Cape and Islands, that number can be as high as 10 percent because of the seasonal nature of the region’s employment.

“All of us have enrollment specialists who go to different community events, go to libraries and community centers and help people sign up for health insurance,” she said.

The funding for those enrollment specialists comes from the Affordable Care Act, she said.

The meeting was part of the centers’ observance of National Health Center Week.

Community health centers are non-profit institutions, locally governed.

In addition to providing accessible, affordable, quality care for nearly 50,000 residents of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, the health centers are economic forces in their communities.

Together they employ approximately 500 people and have operating budgets of more than $40 million that drive local economies.

They will also discuss their organizations’ response to the substance abuse epidemic and health care reform integration and innovations.

National Health Center Week is observed annually to recognize the work America’s health centers do to ensure that everyone has access to a health care home.

With the growth in clients comes the need for more space.

One of the centers, Harbor Community Health Center is having a ribbon cutting for its new larger facility on Attucks Lane in Hyannis this evening.

The center is a public health agency committed to providing comprehensive health care to residents of Cape Cod and offers access to comprehensive family medicine and dental care.

Board Chair Mary McCarthy and President and CEO Daniel J. Driscoll will be on hand to offer a few remarks and welcome guests.

Designed by architectural firm Perkins & Will of Boston with construction overseen by Delphi Construction, Inc. of Mashpee, the interior decor of the health center’s newly refurbished site features an ocean-based theme, with a blue and green color scheme and wavy glass and tile work.

The new address is located just off Independence Drive, just east of the Cape Cod Cooperative Bank in the section of Attucks Lane leading towards the Cape Town Plaza area. It is located on the regular bus routes for the Cape Cod Transit Authority, and there is ample free parking. The building has its own exterior entrance and signage to direct visitors.

The new address is located just off Independence Drive, just east of the Cape Cod Cooperative Bank in the section of Attucks Lane leading towards the Cape Town Plaza area. It is located on the regular bus routes for the Cape Cod Transit Authority, and there is ample free parking. The building has its own exterior entrance and signage to direct visitors.

The 20,000-square foot site with 20 exam rooms offers medical and dental services for the entire family as well as access to low-cost pharmacy services for patients. The health center accepts Free Care, MassHealth, and all major commercial insurances. Individuals having no insurance and looking for primary care and dental services are welcomed and a financial counselor is on staff to assist individuals with enrollments. The center is open seven days a week.