As many of you know, on October 3rd we finally held our Roaring Twenties Costume Party and Awards Event: Virtually. Although we missed seeing so many of you at Union Station where the event was supposed to be held, it was still great to gather as we did to celebrate the many contributions that lead to our successful community response to the pandemic. I would like to once again thank our sponsors for their support and recognize our honorees: YMCA of the USA, Project Bread and Worcester Together for their national, regional and local efforts to care for our most marginalized and vulnerable populations during this unprecedented time.
Moving forward, the Kennedy Community Health team will continue to retool workflows to keep access to health care open for the 29,000 patients we serve throughout Central Mass and MetroWest. About 56% of our patient visits are still successfully being conducted through telehealth platforms with patient visits, both in person and through telehealth up about 18% for the month of September as compared to last year. This increase demonstrates our commitment to being available for our patients no matter the circumstances or challenges we are facing.
Teamwork has never been more important at Kennedy Community Health and it is teamwork that has brought us through this phase of the pandemic with no furloughs or layoffs, and without having to close any of our facilities. Our community-based services are needed now more than ever as FQHCs like Kennedy Community Health have the ‘right-stuff’ to meet the challenges of this moment in time. We are well-positioned to inform, protect and care for our region’s workforce and those who are marginalized by society, who know that we will be there for them no matter their socioeconomic status, country of origin or ability to pay for the services we provide. Community Health Centers bring tremendous value to the regions we serve. We have been at the center of community-based health care before COVID-19 reached our shores and we will grow to meet the needs of those we serve long into the future.
On October 11th, the Worcester Telegram shared our story of teamwork that I think you will find interesting. I invite you to visit the link HERE and learn more about Kennedy Community Health. Thank you.
On August 25, 2010 Great Brook Valley Health Center formally became the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in honor of our late Senator, who passed away exactly one year prior to the renaming ceremony. With the Senator’s son, Edward M. Kennedy, Jr. in attendance, our community gathered to recognize the legacy of a man who fought for health equity until the day he died.
Known as the father of community health centers, Senator Kennedy was so impressed with the health center he visited at Columbia Point in 1966 that he went back to Washington, D.C. and urged that funding be made available to open up more health centers across the country. Columbia Point was one of the first two community-based health centers that was launched in the 1960s by Dr. Jack Geiger and Dr. Count Gibson, who believed that equal access to health care was a civil right.
With Senator Kennedy’s support in the Senate and Adam Clayton Powell’s backing in the House, a $38 million appropriations bill was developed and approved, and community health centers soon sprang to life in Denver, Chicago and New York. By 1971, through the dedication of our late Senator, there were 150 health centers throughout the country, 17 of which were located in Massachusetts. Today, community health centers serve as the primary care provider for over 29 million people in over 12,000 urban and rural areas nation-wide.
As a friend and colleague of Senator Kennedy, I know that he would be very proud of the efforts community health centers have made over the years on behalf of disenfranchised and minority individuals and particularly during these unprecedented times. In fact, without our ability to reach those most in need, the situation could be even more dire. Given that statistics have demonstrated higher rates of death from COVID-19 in marginalized populations, community health centers are needed now more than ever to address the health inequities that continue to pervade our society.
Kennedy Community Health is committed to living out the legacy of our name sake by remaining true to our cause. As the pandemic continues on, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to providing care to anyone in need and pledge to work with community partners to change the paradigm so that health care is truly a right and not a privilege.
July marks the beginning of a new fiscal year at Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Kennedy Community Health). Much like a new calendar year, at the beginning of a new fiscal year, we take time to reflect on the triumphs and tribulations of the previous year. This, of course, becomes the basis on which we plan for the year ahead. And while no one could have predicted the challenges and uncertainties of 2020, we embark on the new year with the confidence in the strength and agility of Kennedy Community Health to continue to meet this moment.
In spite of the many obstacles of the last 12 months, we began, and ended, FY2020 in strong standing. Confronted with a new reality and increased demands on the health care system, Kennedy Community Health implemented the necessary changes to ensure continuity of care for our patients and safety in our community. Our very model of care underwent significant changes in a short period of time; Kennedy Community Health was nimble and creative in finding alternative routes to providing care and maintained patient visits both in person and through telehealth, allowing us to stay on track with our pre-COVID budget and to limit our revenue loses. Unlike so many other organizations and businesses, this too meant that we were successfully able avoid any employee lay-offs and/or furloughs due to lost revenue.
Never losing sight of our mission or values, the Kennedy Community Health remained steadfast in its focus on providing high-quality and inclusive care to the most vulnerable in our communities. Inherit in this process, however, was the need to make infrastructure upgrades in order to support necessary changes. Kennedy Community Health aggressively and successfully sought funding while carefully investing in long-term solutions to enable the Health Center to sustain these changes. Thanks to the dedication of our staff, the generosity of local and national foundations and the stable foundation on which we entered this crisis, Kennedy Community Health has emerged stronger and better able to tackle future crises.
As we look toward FY2021, we are sure to face obstacles, those both foreseen and unknown. However, as the last 12 months have taught us, as a leader in community-based care, Kennedy Community Health is unwavering in its commitment to “help people live healthier lives,” regardless of any challenges we encounter and is well-positioned to meet the ever-changing needs of the community we serve.
Community Health was made for moments like these and Kennedy Community Health is leading the way as we always have.
As you know, Kennedy Community Health has remained open since the pandemic began, with our staff on the front lines fighting the spread of COVID-19. The phased reopening of our Commonwealth provides an opportunity for us to enhance our current operations as we continue to address patient needs. Our team has done an exceptional job developing new care pathways and remote working conditions to keep both staff and patients safe. I have no doubt that our spirit of excellence will continue to shine as we slowly reintroduce services and bring more patients on site.
The approach we are taking provides a framework for phasing in services and onsite appointments. It supports a slow reentry to a more typical clinical operation while we closely monitor the status of COVID-19 in our community. It includes adding more onsite primary care and dental visits, while the behavioral health team continues with its successful telehealth program. Testing for the virus is increasing at all of our health center sites and additional tents have been installed so patients can receive needed vaccines without having to come inside the facility.
Despite the challenges of fighting the pandemic, however, Kennedy Community Health has remained fiscally strong, positioning our organization for long term sustainability. With new care pathways created to deliver patient care, prudent management of our revenue stream, and careful monitoring of the outstanding grant support, Kennedy Community Health has been able to move through the pandemic without any furloughs or layoffs.
This strong position has provided a framework for a growth trajectory that will support increased access to care and allow Kennedy Community Health to continue its leadership role in community-based health care in Central Mass and MetroWest.
As a leader in the communities we serve, Kennedy Community Health will also continue to speak out against racial injustice and the inequities that are pervasive in our society. Born out of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, community health centers have fought for health equity for over 54 years. Kennedy Community Health will honor this tradition by remaining steadfast in our efforts to fight for human rights. While we are hopeful for our future, we will never wain in our support of and fight for social justice. Thank you.
The month of April has indeed been challenging for all of us as we work together to fight the global pandemic. Never before has Kennedy Community Health’s mission been so important. As a premiere health care provider for vulnerable and disenfranchised populations, our services are needed now more than ever.
In response to the pandemic, the spirit of excellence at Kennedy Community Health has shined brighter than ever before. Clinical and operations teams have created new care pathways to keep both our patients and staff safe while minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Telehealth quickly became a viable option to offer patients a way to keep in touch with providers without having to come to one of our health care sties. However, with many of our patients still requiring onsite care and services, members of our clinical team are available everyday to meet their needs. Tents in our parking lots provide opportunities to screen patients, and test if needed, before they enter the facility; and staff are required to wear masks at all times.
During this time of change, we have also experienced a tremendous outpouring of support from the communities we serve. Many local and regional foundations have reached out with special grant opportunities to assist us in purchasing personal protective equipment, set up screening and testing areas, and purchase the tools needed to conduct telehealth appointments. For this support, we are deeply grateful.
We have also received numerous donations of cloth masks from individuals, small businesses and community groups. I cannot thank these gracious volunteers enough for thinking of our staff and the sacrifices they are making everyday.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to our elected and appointed officials, who have been advocating tirelessly on our behalf, insuring that federal COVID-19 relief funds include community health centers. With the loss of revenue from discontinued services and other impacts of the virus, these funds are critical to our overall sustainability.
Thank you all again for your support of Kennedy Community Health as we continue our fight against COVID-19, and please remember us today on Giving Tuesday.
President and CEO
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we are faced with great uncertainties. It is more important now than ever to come together as a community to protect the most vulnerable among us. Guided by our mission to “help people live healthier lives,” Kennedy Community Health is on the frontlines of these great efforts. The “spirit of excellence” is still strong and we are committed to adapting to continue to provide the comprehensive and compassionate care that you have come to expect of us. We continue to monitor and respond to the situation at hand, and will be providing on-going updates on our website and social media to keep you informed of the changes within the Health Center and the local resources available to help you weather this storm.
To date, we have set up screening tents at our Health Center sites to screen patients and prevent the spread within our facilities. With the virus already in our communities, these screening have already been successful in protecting patients and staff from community spread. Our staff is working tirelessly to open new and safer paths to care, including the introduction of tele-health appointments in many departments to continue to address our most vulnerable patients’ needs. Our back office operations have also shifted to allow many non-clinical staff to work remotely.
However necessary, these changes are not without their consequences. By shifting our team’s efforts to address the biggest threat to the health of our community, non-emergent patient appointments must be canceled in order to free up capacity and resources needed to fight this battle. As a result, Kennedy Community Health is facing great losses in critical revenue generated by patient appointments. And we are not alone; community health centers across the country are facing serious financial strains caused by shrinking revenues and increasing demands.
We need your help.
We are calling on our Members of Congress to move to pass long-term funding to support community health centers; legislation passed last fall provided short-term funding that will expire in May 2020. This funding is inadequate to address the crisis at hand. Latest projections indicate that we are facing up to 18 more months of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, while also threatening increasing rates of unemployment and uninsurance across the country. We need community health centers now more than ever. We urge Congress to pass long-term funding to equip community health centers with the resources we need to continue to fill this vital role in our communities.
Every dollar counts in this difficult time. If you would like to contribute to the #coronavirus response efforts at Kennedy Community Health, please consider donating through our Benevity page to double your impact. Benevity will match donations up to $300,000: https://mygoodness.benevity.org/community/cause/840-042513817
Thank you and stay well,
President and CEO
In keeping with our mission to ‘help people live healthier lives,’ the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center has made the difficult decision to postpone our Roaring ‘20s Costume Party, which was set to take place on Saturday, March 28, 2020. Given the evolving situation with the coronavirus, we have decided that it is in the best interest of public health to reschedule the event to mitigate any potential health risks for our guests and our community.
Saturday, June 13, 2020 is the tentative new date for this event. The current situation will continue to be monitored and updates about the event will be provided.
In the meantime, I hope that you are taking measures to keep yourself and your family healthy. At Kennedy Community Health, clinical and operational teams are working around the clock to insure protocols and procedures are in place to protect both our patients and staff. We are also working closely with other community organizations to identify ways to contain this virus.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.
Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you at the Costume Party in June.
President and CEO
On January 28th, I had the opportunity to participate in the hearing held by the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. The purpose of this hearing was for committee members to listen to testimony related to the legislation that was filed to address the myriad challenges we’re facing in our current health care structure.
Governor Charlie Baker and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mary Lou Sudders testified that the legislation addresses “investing in value, with the goal of improving outcomes for patients, increasing access to care, and bringing down costs.” Both officials discussed the critical need for reform: “The legislation we’ve proposed includes big, not marginal reforms in five key areas: prioritizing investments in primary care behavioral health, improving access to high quality coordinated care, supporting community health care providers including community hospitals and community health centers, managing health care costs and increasing affordability and promoting insurance market reforms.”
Our colleagues at the Mass League of Community Health Centers were also present at the hearing. They stressed the importance of passing the legislation to secure the sustainability of our delivery model. Michael Curry, Deputy CEO and General Council represented us well when he shared: “It has been demonstrated time and time again through study after study, it is high value and high impact, achieving that elusive goal of better care at lower costs, but we face both immediate and deep structural challenges to our viability. The effort in this bill to initiate a shift towards increased investment in primary care and behavioral health is vital.”
As the largest primary care practice in this state, serving one out of every eight residents, community health centers are at the core of quality care and access. Without FQHCs, our health care delivery system would crumble.
So if the opportunity presents itself, I hope that you will join us in letting your state senators and representatives know how important this legislation is to our future.
Thank you so much for your support.
President and CEO
Giving Tuesday, the global day of caring, is celebrated each year the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This special day provides an opportunity for all of us to support the work of non-profits all over the country. And as one of the largest community health centers serving the most vulnerable in our community, supporting the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Kennedy Community Health) on Giving Tuesday will go a long way in helping us to help people live healthier lives.
This Giving Tuesday, we’re asking for your support as we raise much-needed funds for our school-based health centers (SBHCs). Kennedy Community Health currently operates six SBHCs in Worcester and Framingham where our clinicians provide access to vital health services to students in a place where they spend most of their day: at school. Your support on this Giving Tuesday will help with everything from replacing worn-out waiting room furniture at these sites to providing the on-going availability of youth health resources, like health education materials and providing on-site flu shots.
Supporting Kennedy Community Health on Giving Tuesday can be done in any number of ways:
- Sharing our posts and fundraisers allows us to broadcast our message and mission more broadly.
- Inviting your network to like our page or join our fundraiser helps to increase the size of our audience.
- Creating your own fundraiser in benefit of the Health Center helps us to increase our efforts towards our goal of raising $5,000
- Donating any amount you can to our fundraiser helps to inch us closer to our goal.
As an added bonus, Facebook is matching the first $7 million in donations made through their site which can double your donation.
Any support you’re willing and able to contribute on this Giving Tuesday is deeply appreciated! Please follow our progress by visiting our main campaign page on