Community Health Centers in Focus at Harwich Port Forum

HARWICH PORT – The Cape and Vineyard Community Health Center network celebrated the work of local centers Wednesday morning during a legislative breakfast.

Local lawmakers, health center staff and board members gathered at Outer Cape Health Services’ new administrative offices in Harwich Port to discuss the importance of the organizations and the care they provide.

Local Community Health Center 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.

The breakfast is part of National Health Center Week, which has a 2017 theme of “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: The Key to Healthier Communities.”

“What we did here this morning is talk to them about some of the individual initiatives that each of the health centers provides to our communities that we serve that are helping to foster that health,” said Pat Nadle, the CEO of Outer Cape Health Services.

Nadle said the goal of the breakfast is to have local officials hear about the services provided so they can represent the organizations and patients in the community when they head back to Boston or Washington, D.C.

Fourth Barnstable State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) praised the work being done by the centers across the region and the services they provide to a broad spectrum of the population.

“I think the role that we as legislators have to play in this is to ensure the ongoing health of our community health centers,” Peake said.

Peake said the health centers, including Outer Cape Health Services, provide access to quality health care for young people, women who are pregnant, pediatrics or geriatrics for the residents of the eight communities she serves on the Outer and Lower Cape.

“If it wasn’t for them I don’t know what we would do to have access to adequate health care,” she said.

State Representative Tim Whelan (R-Brewster), who serves the 1st Barnstable distict, said the Cape is geographically challenged and having these centers nearby provide access to care, especially in an emergency.

He said the centers are also cost efficient.

“As they say, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” Whelan said. “By getting people in and trying to find problems before they fester and become very large, very medically complicated and expensive issues.”

Whelan said the centers save money for both taxpayers and individual patients.

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

“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.

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