2022 By the Numbers

While the new year is well underway, I wanted to take one last opportunity to highlight the incredible work our Kennedy Community Health staff has done to ensure members of our communities live healthier lives.

Those of you who know me know I love numbers, particularly when they tell powerful stories.

2022 marked Kennedy Community Health’s 50th anniversary and I couldn’t be more grateful to those who made that milestone possible. When Kennedy Community Health was founded in 1972 as the Great Brook Valley Health Center, our seven Founding Mothers were determined to break the status quo and provide care to a population that had been too often overlooked by the area’s healthcare delivery system. 

Fifty years later, I am proud to say that Kennedy Community Health continues to provide care to all who walk through our doors, regardless of age, race, religious beliefs, immigration or coverage status. 

In 2022, we saw 31,120 patients, the largest number served in our history. That on its own is a soaring achievement. But then, when we dig deeper, we find that our teams provided care in 85 languages across our three medical facilities. Among these individuals were 280 refugees from countries across the world, brought to us through our Refugee Health Assessment Program, one of only ten in the Commonwealth. 

Kennedy Community Health increased its standing as a leader in LGBTQIA+ health care equality and now sees 163 patients by our transgender care team, providing these individuals with gender affirming hormone therapy and comprehensive health care and social services. This number has almost doubled since the team’s creation two years ago and we look forward to continuing to provide gender affirming care to all who need it.

As part of Kennedy Community Health’s comprehensive model of care, patients may have their prescriptions filled at our health centers and we processed 137,307 prescriptions over the last year.  We also distributed 2,708 glasses through our Optometry programs.

Our insurance navigation services and community health workers partner with patients and medical providers to advance our goal of excellent health outcomes for all, as we recognize that health is affected by a variety of outside factors. Our team of Navigators completed 2,370 insurance applications, 1,546 insurance renewals and provided 14,277 assists with health insurance needs.

These numbers should make us proud. Prouder still because behind them are happy, healthier patients who are even more dedicated to this, their community health center. 

We want to thank our patients and our community who understand the value of quality health care and we look forward to the future as we continue to help all people live healthier lives.

Yours in health,

Stephen J. Kerrigan, President and CEO

An Update on Community Health in Greater Worcester

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I’m writing today to update you, our patients, supporters and dedicated staff about some recent and unnerving events that may appear to threaten community-based health care in Greater Worcester. We at Kennedy Community Health are acutely aware of how recent headlines and news reports have evoked a sense of uncertainty in community health, so we want to update you on our Health Center in a clear and concise manner and be available to answer any questions you, our most important audiences, have.

Kennedy Community Health is strong, structurally and financially, and is expanding access to health care in Central Massachusetts with two new sites in Worcester and Milford opening early 2023. Our growing team remains committed to putting the health and wellbeing of patients first and we will continue to provide exemplary care to all who come through our doors, whether they have been coming to our facilities for generations or are just starting today.

We understand that this is a challenging time for members of our community and want to reassure you that we have and are continuing to offer support to those who need it most. We have been in steady and constant contact with Family Health Center of Worcester before and through their recent financial challenges. We will continue to work with them to ensure they can stay a strong and vibrant organization providing community-based health care for years to come. While the leadership of Family Health continues to consider various options to secure their future, Kennedy Community Health will remain positioned to ensure the public health of this region remains strong and be ready to assist them further should they be open to our plan.

Community health centers have been a cornerstone of care since their creation in 1965 and are essential partners in our community, particularly for our most vulnerable populations. The pandemic has shown us more than any time in recent history the power of strong, local, accessible and affordable health care for anyone who needs it. We look out for the families we serve and work to address the social determinants of health that impact them so fundamentally.

Kennedy Community Health is grateful for our providers and staff, for their dedication to serving the members of our community. We look forward to continuing to ensure our patients live healthier lives as we continue moving our core mission forward for generations to come.

Thank you for your support,

Stephen J. Kerrigan, President and CEO

Why August 22nd Matters

Cries for equality and justice, for rights and opportunities have been with us for far too long.  Five decades ago, in the 1970s, the Civil Rights Movement was dominating the headlines.  People on the streets demanded health care now.  Born from those demands, the community health center movement emerged.  Health centers not only provided access to needed care, but they were also a vehicle for economic growth and development in neighborhoods that needed it the most.

In Great Brook Valley, the largest public housing complex in Central MA, seven mothers came together with the same goal in mind: better access to high-quality, comprehensive and preventative care for their families.  At the time, residents faced tremendous barriers.  In some instances, it could take hours and many bus lines just to get to the emergency room.  Some patients took multiple buses with broken bones, bleeding wounds or worse.  A report from 1971 described such a situation.

One woman in her twenties brought her six-year-old daughter to a hospital with an injured arm, requesting an x-ray. The staff put a bandage on her and sent her home, but the pain persisted. At a second hospital, the child was diagnosed with a broken arm. The same mother’s eight-year-old received stitches in her leg that burst open once they reached home. Her one-and-a-half-year-old son was diagnosed with a bad asthma attack and given medication for it. A second opinion found the true problem, a collapsed lung.

On August 22, 1972, everything changed.  Fed up with the status quo, those seven brave mothers, our Founding Mothers, from Great Brook Valley came together to bring care to the housing complex.  The mothers enlisted the help of community leader, Charles Estus, and formed a Health Committee to demonstrate need in the neighborhood.  They negotiated for one nurse practitioner to provide care in one room in one apartment, thereby founding the Great Brook Valley Health Center.  And on this day in 1972, the Health Center was incorporated.

We know the story from there: one room became five, five became a whole building, and so on until today, 50 years later, Kennedy Community Health proudly serves over 29,000 individuals through 11 sites across Central Mass and MetroWest.  These sites, staffed by over 450 members of the communities we serve, provide access to high-quality, comprehensive and inclusive care to anyone who walks through our doors.

Standing on the shoulders of our seven founding mothers, we’re forging ahead with not one, but two expansions, in both Worcester and Milford.  The story does not end here. 

We continue to carry forth the mission and vision of those seven trailblazers each and every day.  We find new opportunities.  We dream bigger, we have a greater impact, and we bring more services to more people across the Commonwealth.  Every day, we help people live healthier lives but in the words of our namesake, Senator Kennedy, the work goes on.

Yours in health,

Stephen J. Kerrigan

Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers Celebrates 50th Year of Health Center Movement Launched in Boston

Health centers across the US participate in National Health Center Week

BOSTON – August 5, 2015 – Community health centers across the nation and in Massachusetts kick off National Health Center Week, August 9 – 15, 2015. The community-led health care movement started in Massachusetts 50 years ago with the founding of the nation’s first community health center at Columbia Point in Dorchester. In Worcester, the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center serves over 28,000 patients a year and is the largest CHC in Central Massachusetts.

As part of the national celebration, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and its 49 members across the Commonwealth will hold local health fairs and events, take to social media, and promote a new webpage.

The first community health center was founded in 1965 at Columbia Point in Dorchester, MA, and spurred a movement to increase the general health of individuals by addressing poverty-causing conditions. Over the last 50 years, innovations that were first introduced at community health centers – such as the development of preventative health services and programs for assisting patients with the management of chronic illnesses — have become standards of care across the American health system. There are now over 1,200 community health centers across the U.S. serving residents in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

“Since the launch of Columbia Point Health Center in 1965, community health centers have been focused on improving the overall health and well-being of their patients,” said James W. Hunt, Jr., president and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. “Health centers pioneered some of the important quality and cost saving measures we talk about today. For example, our understanding of the importance of primary and preventive care, patient-centered medical homes and coordinated care – all originated with community health centers 50 years ago.”

To mark the 50th anniversary, the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers is hosting a variety of activities over the next four months. The League is partnering with the University of Massachusetts Boston to study the health center network’s impact over its history and identify the next big public health challenges that health centers would be uniquely poised to address. In November, the League will host a day-long 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.

In 1965, physician activists H. Jack Geiger and Count D. Gibson Jr. recognized social, political and economic challenges greatly impact the overall health of a community. Developing a new model to provide accessible, affordable and high-quality health care, Geiger and Gibson founded two community health centers, the first in the Columbia Point section of Dorchester, MA, and the second in Mound Bayou, MS.

Community health centers expanded nationwide after Senator Edward M. Kennedy visited Columbia Point Health Center in 1966. Impressed with the community-focused model of care, Kennedy introduced an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act, directing $51 million in funding for the development of additional health centers across the country. Fifty years later, Massachusetts’ 49 community health centers make up the Commonwealth’s largest primary care network and serve more than 889,000 patients, or one in eight state residents.

For more information on the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers visit www.massleague.org. Follow the League on Facebook and on Twitter, @MassLeague. National Health Center Week is supported by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Kennedy CHC Named as “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality”

Worcester, MA – October 20, 2014 –The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center announces that it has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization.

The findings were part of HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index 2014, a unique annual survey that encourages equal care for LGBT Americans, and recognizes healthcare institutions doing the best work.

Kennedy CHC earned top marks in meeting non-discrimination and training criteria that demonstrate its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing the quality health care and respect they deserve.

Antonia G. McGuire, President and CEO of Kennedy CHC states, “This acknowledgement of our work is a testament to the commitment of our staff and clinicians who strive daily to address health disparities and health equity issues. Our mission is to insure that everyone has equal access to health care. We are proud to have achieved this significant recognition.”

Kennedy CHC was one of a select group of 426 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.

“Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality change the lives of LGBT patients and their families for the better each and every day,” said Chad Griffin, HRC president. “LGBT people should be treated equally in all aspects of our lives, and HRC celebrates the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center for their tireless work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”

The Healthcare Equality Index offers healthcare facilities unique and powerful resources designed to help provide equal care to a long-overlooked group of patients, as well as assistance in complying with new regulatory requirements and access to high-quality staff training.

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index 2014, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei.

Windstream Donates Patriots Tickets to Kennedy CHC


Windstream staff, Adam Katz, Director, Account Development (Left) and Elizabeth Doherty, Senior Account Manager (R) present Matt Sanford, IT Director for the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, with two tickets to an upcoming Patriots Game to be used to help raise money for the organization’s annual appeal.

Boston-based Windstream is a provider of data, voice, network and cloud services. They are currently a business partner of Kennedy CHC. Contact: Paula Green, 508-532-7305 paula.green@kennedychc.org

Statement Against Racism

Racism hurts and is hard to heal. It takes everyone working together against hate, bias and prejudice. United we stand. Join us in creating a more just and healthy society.

Challenge yourself to: “Listen without prejudice, to love without limits and to reverse the hate.” (Orlando Jones)

Report: Better Quality and Lower Cost Health Care at Community Health Centers

The National Association of Community Health Centers recently released a report:  “Community Health Centers:  The Local Prescription for Better Quality and Lower Costs” which documents what they are calling “The Health Center Payoff:”

  • Health centers make up a substantial share of the nation’s primary care infrastructure, operating in 8,000 locations and serving 23 million patients
  • Health centers are more likely to accept new patients and offer more evening and weekend hours
  • Expanding health center capacity lowers Emergency Department utilization among low-income populations
  • Health centers save $1,263 per person per year as a result of their timely and appropriate care
  • Investing in health centers creates jobs and fuels additional economic activity through the purchase of goods and services from local businesses

Health centers by nature exemplify the model of a patient-centered medical home.  Read more…