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Stimulus Funds Aid Community Health Centers in MA

August 14, 2009

Worcester, MA - As the national debate over health care reform continues, federal stimulus funds are already on the ground and aiding community health centers in Massachusetts and around the country.

Frances Anthes, president and CEO of Family Health Center of Worcester, one of two community health centers in the city to receive stimulus funds, says that, due to an increase in demand for services, the money could not have come at a better time.

"We were really inundated with people needing health care, and you never want to close your doors, you never want a waiting list, and we were really worried about how we were going to meet the increased demand."

Konstantina Lukes, mayor of the City of Worcester, says that, although 97 percent of the state's residents now carry some type of health insurance, many people still do not receive the full benefits of health care. Worcester's community health centers have been a tremendous help in filling in the gaps, says Mayor Lukes, especially during the economic recession.

"The community centers have the ability to overcome financial limitations and remove those obstacles, those racial and ethnic barriers, which those outside the mainstream of American health care would find overwhelming."

The stimulus funds have allowed the two community health centers in Worcester, and at centers throughout the state, to retain and hire new staff to meet increased demand.

26 of Massachusetts' community health centers have received stimulus funds so far. More than 50 community health centers throughout the state provide primary, mental and dental health care services on a sliding fee scale to thousands of Massachusetts residents.

As part of National Health Center Week this week, the National Association of Community Health Centers has released an online tool that tracks how and where stimulus funds have been used at www.nachc.com.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA