Local Organizations Celebrating Community Health Centers Week

Duffy CEO Heidi Nelson

HARWICH PORT – Community Health Center Week is underway across the nation and Barnstable County.

Community health centers have provided healthcare to residents on the Cape and Islands since the 1960 and there are currently five non-profit organizations providing services on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard.

Local organizations include: Community Health Center of Cape Cod, which serves the Upper Cape at locations in Mashpee, Bourne and Falmouth; Harbor Community Health Center, which serves the Mid Cape in Hyannis; Outer Cape Health Services, which serves the Lower and Outer Cape with sites in Harwich, Wellfleet and Provincetown; Island Health Care on Martha’s Vineyard; and Duffy Health Center, which serves the homeless and those at risk of being homeless across the county.

In 2016, more than 50,000 people on the Cape and Islands received services through 200,000 visits.

“We serve somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of the population of Barnstable County, which is pretty impressive,” said Heidi Nelson, the CEO of Duffy Health Center.

More than 25 million patients are served at more than 9,000 community health center locations across the county.

“Together, we share a common mission in making comprehensive primary care and behavioral health services accessible to anyone, regardless of insurance status, and from all walks of life,” said Patricia Nadle, the CEO of Outer Cape Health Services.

Nelson said the target populations are those on Medicaid, or MassHealth in Massachusetts.

“[They] sometimes have a hard time finding providers other than community health centers,” Nelson said.

Private physician offices receive a lower reimbursement rate for MassHealth patients and tend not to want to see those patients.

“For us we receive an enhanced rate covering the medical care and wrap around services for the people that we serve,” Nelson said.

The five local centers employ more than 600 area residents and physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, medical assitants, pharmacists, technicians, support staff and others.

All of the centers are governed by boards of directors whose members live and work in the communities they serve, and more than half of whom are consumers of their health center’s services.

A legislative breakfast celebrating Coomunity Health Center Week will be held Wednesday at Outer Cape Health Services new offices in Harwich Port.

The event will feature local legislators, health center staff and board memebers to discuss this year’s theme of “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities.

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