Worcester’s Kennedy Community Health receives $6.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding

WORCESTER — The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center received $6.2 million in American Rescue Plan funding, U.S. Rep. James McGovern announced Thursday. 

“We’re proudly grateful to (the fund), President Biden and Jim McGovern for his leadership in the house to get the plan passed,” said Stephen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center since July 2019.

Since the start of the pandemic, the center has had many expenses on COVID-related cares, such as establishing screening tents outside their health center sites on Tacoma and Lincoln streets, and Skyline and Century drives. The center hired nurses to conduct testing and administer vaccines. 

Kerrigan said the center will mainly use the money for not only paying COVID-related bills since last year, but also modifying sites and infrastructure and doing funds. 

“We’ll be looking at all of our sites as we always are, to find ways to increase access of care, (like) providing more primary clinical spaces,” Kerrigan said.

“It really allows us not just meet the moment of COVID but comes out stronger on the other side,” Kerrigan said.

The center is one of three community health centers in Massachusetts’ Second Congressional District who received the funding. The total in three is $12.9 million.

“Community health centers play a vital role when it comes to expanding justice and equity in our healthcare system, and that’s never been clearer than in the vital role they have played in responding to COVID-19,” McGovern said. “More help is on the way through the American Rescue Plan so they can redouble their efforts to get more shots in arms, support underserved and vulnerable populations that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and save more lives during this pandemic.”

The funds are part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which invests $6 billion nationwide to expand access to vaccines in underserved communities.

Through the American Rescue Plan, 37 community health centers throughout Massachusetts will receive a total of $144,350,625.

Throughout the pandemic, the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center has maintained financial strength that resulted in no staff layoffs or furloughs, as they adjusted smoothly to telehealth visits and remote work. 

According to the center, Kennedy Community Health was able to deliver more than 80% of services through telehealth. Because of that, the rate of patients not showing up for appointments dropped from 22% to less than 13%, and the overall number of patient visits increased. 

“Critically important that we have a president who understand the value of community health, we have a congressman and all of our members of Congress who really understand the value of community health centers,” Kerrigan said.