Community Health Center Of Cape Cod Given $6 Million Federal Grant
By: Elsa H. Partan
Last week, Karen L. Gardner of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod appeared before the Mashpee Planning Board to ask permission to build a 500-square-foot addition. The center would add three new dental chairs, the chief executive officer explained, a small but significant addition given the clinic’s demand for dental services.
Those plans changed a few days later when the center received a federal grant of $6 million, which will allow it to build a 20,000-square-foot facility instead. The facility is planned to be twice the size of the current clinic and be built adjacent to it.
“We’re just so happy and thankful,” said Ms. Gardner in a phone interview this week. Ms. Gardner said the center received help in pursuing the funding from the other health centers on Cape Cod and from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.
“And all of our political representatives have been working so hard,” she said. Ms. Gardner said she was particularly grateful to Congressman William D. Delahunt, Governor Deval L. Patrick, and the Town of Mashpee for the long-term lease of land that made the clinic’s existence possible.
The 500-square-foot addition is on hold for now.
“This should negate the need for another little office,” Ms. Gardner said.
An additional grant of $3,619,349 was awarded to Outer Cape Health Services in Wellfleet and a grant of $461,991 went to Duffy Health Center in Hyannis.
The funding will be provided through the Health Resources and Services Administration as part of President Barack H. Obama’s health care reform bill passed by Congress earlier this year. Part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act intends to increase the number of people who are served by community health centers from the current 20 million patients nationwide to 40 million patients, Ms. Gardner said, and her clinic needs to be ready to take on its share.
One of the top priorities for the center is to expand its dental clinic, which has hampered the center’s ability to serve patients, she said.
“It’s tiny. We only have room to serve 3,000 dental patients each year, but we have 11,000 patients who come through our doors each year,” she said.
Ms. Gardner said that the clinic aims to serve as a “medical home” to patients, meaning that they can receive many kinds of care in one place.
“If they are connected to their health care provider, they are more likely to meet their health care goals,” she said.
The center, which opened its present location on Commercial Street in Mashpee in 2008, provides primary care, mental health services, and dental care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay. About 50 percent of patients carry health insurance provided by the State of Massachusetts, while 30 percent are covered by the federal Medicare program, Ms. Gardner said. The remaining 20 percent are individuals who float in and out of private coverage depending on whether their current employers provide it, she said.
Congressman Delahunt’s chief of staff, Mark D. Forest, said the clinic rose to the top of the list, in part because it had a construction project ready to build.
“They also have a very good track record,” he said. “It’s a very solid organization and a dedicated team. They are just excellent. They’re top notch at what they do.”