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Community Health Centers Share Grant As Improvements Hailed

August 17, 2018

FITCHBURG -- Community Health Connections is one of 39 health centers awarded statewide for providing consistently improving services to their nearly 25,000 patients.

Community Health Connections, which operates four health centers -- including two in Fitchburg -- received $111,144 in Quality Improvement grant awards, provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration branch.

“This will help us expand some of the service that we are able to provide,” said Community Health Connections Chief Operating Officer Jackie Buckley. “If we are trying to meet the needs of several hundred patients who have extra-high needs, such as more barriers to care, this will allow us to bring on a couple more patients.”

Buckley pointed out the funding for Community Health Connections, the fourth largest employer in Fitchburg, could be used to bring in additional workers or increase hours to current employees.

“Or whatever it is we need to add to continued outreach,” Buckley said. “In other words, we don’t have any gravy. This is going back into treating our patients and making sure we are able to provide all the services that are needed.”

A total of $3.7 million was provided to health centers statewide through the Quality Improvement grant awards program.

The program promotes continued community health center improvements in several categories, according to a HHS press release announcing the award funding on Wednesday.

The categories include expanding access to comprehensive care, improving care quality and outcomes, increasing comprehensive care delivery in a cost-effective way, addressing health disparities, advancing the use of health information technology and delivering patient-centered care.

Community Health Connections, which also has centers in Leominster and Gardner, was recognized in categories titled Clinical Quality Improvers, Enhancing Access to Care, Addressing Health Disparities, Electronic Health Record Reporters, Advancing Health Info Technology and Achieving Patient Centered Medical Home Recognition.

According to Wednesday’s HHS press release, more than 27 million people relied on a HRSA-supported health center in 2017, including one in nine children, 17 years or younger; one in three people living in poverty; and more than 355,000 veterans.

“Quality, value-based care is a priority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HRSA-funded heath centers serve as leaders in quality healthcare in the U.S.,” stated HRSA Administrator George Sigouna in Wednesday’s release. “Nearly all HRSA-funded health centers demonstrated improvement in one or more clinical quality measures from the year prior, and these funds will support health centers’ work to improve the quality of care they deliver everyday in their communities around the country.”

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis

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