Kennedy Community Health Takes Part in Day of Advocacy at State House

Kennedy Community Health was pleased to join the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and other community health centers from across the Commonwealth in a day of advocacy at the Massachusetts State House. On Tuesday, June 4th, members of Kennedy Community Health Leadership spoke with legislators about key challenges faced by community health centers.

Catherine Hoey, Community Relations Manager and Executive Assistant to CEO and President, Steve Kerrigan, spoke with Spectrum News about access to primary care providers.

Ruby Pezanetti, Chief Operations Officer, spoke to Kinga Borondy of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, regarding the importance of addressing health insurance reimbursement rates for sustainability of community health centers. Community health centers care for one in seven Bay Staters, and play a critical role in the health care delivery system in the state.

“It is absolutely critical to health care in Massachusetts and nationally,” said Ruby Pezanetti of the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, with centers in Worcester, Framingham and Milford. “At the end of the day, vulnerable populations will be unable to access to primary care and critical care services without the funding.”

Annual 5k Walk & Run

Sunday, August 11th at Polar Park

Kennedy Community Health is pleased to partner with its friends at the WooSox to bring its annual 5K walk & run at Polar Park for the 4th year in a row on Sunday, August 11, 2024!

We hope you will join us by walking or running in support of quality healthcare for all. Sponsorship opportunities are available at many levels, and we are also happy to customize a package that meets your needs.

Learn how to partner with us to help people live healthier lives!

MAVEN Project brings specialty care to provider fingertips at Kennedy Community Health

CLINIC PARTNER SPOTLIGHT – Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Mass.)

MAVEN Project brings specialty care to provider fingertips at Kennedy Community Health

In 1972, seven women living in public housing founded the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Kennedy Community Health) to create better access to health care for their community. Since then, the clinic has grown to 10 Massachusetts locations serving more than 32,000 patients.

Roughly nine out of 10 of their patients are low income and one in three are uninsured, and Kennedy Community Health offers everything from primary and urgent care to maternity care, optometry and behavioral health services. Kennedy Community Health also boasts Central Massachusetts’ largest dental practice that accepts MassHealth.

And for the last three years, providers at Kennedy Community Health have benefitted from the support of MAVEN Project’s expert physician volunteers.

“It’s so hard to get our patients in to see a specialist,” shared Pablo I. Hernandez Itriago, M.D., chief medical officer at Kennedy Community Health. “We’re the community’s safety net and with MAVEN Project we can start treatment and be confident in doing so. And MAVEN Project’s mentorship offerings are especially beneficial for our newer providers. Having a mentor can help them adjust in what can be a challenging environment.”

With guidance from MAVEN Project, Dr. Hernandez Itriago was able to reassure a patient who had a cancer history and developed new symptoms that might have signaled a reoccurrence. After connecting with a MAVEN Project volunteer, Dr. Hernandez Itriago confirmed it was not cancer.

“It’s specialty care at our fingertips,” he added. “Providers are supported, patients feel taken care of. It’s a solution that works right away instead of waiting weeks or months to be seen.”

Anna McMahan, M.D., medical director at Kennedy Community Health, uses MAVEN Project frequently to make sense of abnormal lab results or radiology that lands in a grey zone.

“I reach out to MAVEN Project volunteers when I reach the limit of what I know,” Dr. McMahan added. “It’s really wonderful to have an expert clarify what to do next. And their consults are so customized for each case that I know exactly how to counsel the patient. It can take weeks or months for a patient to be seen by a local specialist, and this helps to fill the gap. It’s really a fantastic service.”

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Original story: https://mavenproject.org/maven-project-brings-specialty-care-to-provider-fingertips-at-kennedy-community-health/

Laying the groundwork: DEI executives need institutional support in become true change agents

In the three months following the May 2020 police murder of George Floyd, the number of diversity, equity, and inclusion-related job openings surged 55% in the U.S., according to employment website Glassdoor, as businesses scrambled to respond to a national reckoning on race.

Yet, as openings for DEI directors and chief diversity officers sprung up, Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center in Worcester was not among them.

Read more…

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

Kennedy Community Health Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Sedruola “Sedie” Maruska

Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center

Sedruola “Sedie” Maruska joins Kennedy Community Health as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in creating equitable and inclusive workspaces. Maruska’s time in both the business and nonprofit sector has equipped her with the organizational support skills integral to creating a cohesive and welcoming workspace. She has developed curriculum and workshops focused on addressing bias, racial sensitivity, equity & inclusion.