For Immediate Release - February 06, 2012

Governor Celebrates Opening of New Whittier Street Health Center

Whittier Streeth Health Center
Governor Deval Patrick will joins Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other community leaders to celebrate the opening of the new Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. (Photo credit: Eric Haynes/Governor's Office). View additional photos.

BOSTON – Monday, February 6, 2012 - Later this afternoon, Governor Deval Patrick will join Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other community leaders to celebrate the opening of the new Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury. Supported by $12 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, the new facility is a 78,000-square foot, state-of-the-art health center that provides vital health services to residents of Roxbury and surrounding communities.

The $35 million expansion will enable Whittier to expand its services from 70,000 patient visits annually to a new capacity of 220,000 patient visits annually. The renovation also created nearly 450 construction jobs and 50 permanent full-time jobs.

"Part of the way to assure access and also part of the way to assure cost-containment is encouraging as many people as possible to get their care in lower-cost community centers," said Governor Patrick.

In 2009, the Obama Administration committed more than $800 million in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the construction, repair and renovation of over 1,500 health center sites nationwide.  Governor Patrick actively pursued funding on behalf of Massachusetts community health centers, meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Katheen Sebelius and writing letters in support of the Massachusetts centers’ applications. In December 2009, Massachusetts secured $80 million to help replace cramped buildings and upgrade technology at eight health centers across Massachusetts. The Commonwealth received the largest allocation of any state, with roughly one of every eight dollars in grants for community clinics going to clinics here that serve some of the state's most vulnerable residents. The biggest grants, $12 million each, were awarded to Whittier, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, and Healthfirst Family Care Center in Fall River.

"Whittier Street Health Center has been caring for Bostonians for nearly 80 years and has become a model for how health care is best delivered in an urban environment,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “This new, larger space will help even more of our city’s residents care for themselves and their families and improve access to quality health care for those who need it most.”

"Our community health centers are lifelines for people who have nowhere else to turn," said Senator Kerry. "This investment means thousands more people will be able to see a doctor and get treatment when they're sick."

"The Whittier Street Health Center is such a valuable resource for the community and the new, larger location gives many more patients access to needed services,” said Congressman Capuano, co-chair of the Congressional Community Health Centers Caucus. “I am pleased that federal stimulus funds were available for this worthwhile project that created jobs and expanded health care services.”

“At its previous location, the Center struggled to meet the growing demands of the community,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. “In this extraordinary new home, Whittier Street will build on its commitment to patient-centered care and to addressing the disproportionately high rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, HIV/AIDS and other health risks facing the Roxbury community.”

The new Whittier Street Health Center is located at 1290 Tremont Street in the Boston Empowerment Zone, an area identified as having a higher concentration of poverty. Residents face considerable adverse socio-economic and environmental risks to their overall health. The Center was first founded in 1933 as a well-baby clinic to address health issues within Boston’s low-income populations. The Center has since evolved into a medical and community center that caters to the needs of its community’s residents, providing comprehensive services ranging from basic health care to a prison re-entry program, refugee health assessments, geriatric clinic services, and more.

In addition to the $12 million community health center ARRA grant, the Whittier Street Health Center also received two other ARRA awards, including $595,000 for Capital Improvement Projects (office space renovation into dental facilities, and the implementation of electronic health records) and $233,000 to address an Increased Demand for Services that supports the staff additions of one dentist, two dental assistants, a physician, and a medical assistant. The grant is part of approximately $12.3 billion in ARRA funding that has poured into the state since ARRA’s enactment in February of 2009.

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