Hilltown Community Health Centers awarded $ 1.8 million grant

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WORTHINGTON – Hilltown Community Health Centers received a $ 1.8 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act, the largest financial injection in the history of the nonprofit and part of the 7 , $ 6 billion in funding approved for community health centers nationwide.

“It’s so fantastic we don’t know what to do yet,” said Hilltown Community Health Centers Executive Director Eliza Lake.

The organization’s main clinics are located in Worthington, Huntington and Amherst. Its origins date back over 70 years and it provides healthcare to patients regardless of their ability to pay.

The association’s coverage area includes all of Hampshire County, with the exception of Ware, as well as the Western Hills of Hampden County. However, there is no zip code requirement to access its services, which include medical, dental, behavioral care, optometry, advocacy for victims of domestic violence, COVID-19 vaccinations, and COVID testing. 19.

Franklin County Community Health Center also received a similar prize of $ 1.65 million.

Lake said the grant is slightly larger than the centers’ annual federal funding. The $ 7.6 billion for community health centers is for various activities related to the fight against COVID-19, including vaccine distribution and administration, testing, contact tracing, supplies, community outreach and education. It can also be used to carry out other health workforce related activities and to expand health care services and infrastructure, in accordance with the Rescue Plan Act.

“This is the largest single grant we have ever received,” said Lake.

The association has 60 days to submit a budget for the money, which must be spent within two years, she said.

While Lake said the budgeting process will help Hilltown Community Health Centers determine what the $ 1.8 million will be used for, she said a portion will certainly go towards the centers’ immunization effort. The funds will be available so that the nonprofit can tap into the accumulated costs.

Lake said health centers have seen a significant drop in revenue due to the pandemic, with most of their revenue coming from patients. However, she said a combination of P3 loans, other federal and state government support, and individual contributions helped stabilize her financial situation.

“We are currently financially stable,” Lake said. “Certainly, this grant will help. ”

Lake praised the work of U.S. Representative Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and U.S. Representative Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, for helping secure funding for health centers under the American Rescue Plan Act. The $ 7.6 billion went through the House Ways and Means committee, of which Neal is the chair.

“The idea of ​​expanding health care centers was part of our philosophy,” said Neal.

He also said the pandemic has shown the value of telehealth and community health centers, and he praised the work of Hilltown Community Health Centers.

“I think they do a great job every day,” he said.

McGovern said community health centers are on the front lines and “deserve all the support we can give them.”

He said he has been fighting for community health centers since joining Congress, and learned of their impact from the late US Senator Ted Kennedy.

“Whenever we fight for money for community health centers, I think of Senator Kennedy,” McGovern said.

He also said that the money for community health centers goes through the House rules committee, which he chairs.

“Our presidencies allow us to monitor the interest of Massachusetts,” he said.

McGovern also said there’s a good chance community health centers will also receive additional funding from the federal government this year.

You can reach Bera Dunau at [email protected]

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