Health Center grant to target uninsured
At its Greenfield site Monday, the Community Health Center of Franklin County announced a $65,500 grant that will allow the organization to help connect uninsured people with health care plans. From left to right: Greenfield Mayor William Martin; Community Health Center's Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Guilbault and Chief Medical Officer Flora Sadri; the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers' Maya Saunders and Michael Curry; and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern.
Congressman second district
GREENFIELD — A new $65,500 federal grant will allow the Community Health Center of Franklin County to expand its efforts to connect local uninsured people with health insurance plans.
According to health center officials, about 8 percent of the county’s residents (nearly 6,000 people) are uninsured — despite state and federal regulations that require adults 18 and older to have insurance.
The health center — which treats between 8,000 and 9,000 patients each year at offices in Greenfield, Turners Falls and Orange — currently has two part-time outreach employees who work with both patients and nonpatients to connect them with insurance providers.
But this new grant, awarded by the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration, will allow the health center to increase these employees’ hours to full time, said Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Guilbault. They’ll organize events, visit places like senior centers and food pantries and be on hand to answer questions and provide more information for uninsured people.
“(We) see poor people who have to make decisions whether they can afford medication or whether they can afford food (or) housing,” said Chief Medical Officer Flora Sadri at the grant announcement Monday in Greenfield.
She said it’s important for people to have preventive medicine and regular health checkups so they can detect medical problems before they escalate into more serious conditions.
On hand for the announcement was rep. Jim McGovern, who said that a national outreach effort is an important part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act implementation.
“We all believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and I think everybody in the Commonwealth and everybody in the country should have access to good quality health care,” said McGovern, whose congressional district includes much of Franklin County.
“(The) challenge now is reaching ... the uninsured population and making sure they know about what their options are and that we get them enrolled,” he said.
Greenfield Mayor William Martin said he’d like to see the town increase its partnerships with the health center. The outreach workers could attend and give information about health insurance providers at town events like an organized safety day, said Martin.
Officials representing the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and Rep. Paul Mark also attended the grant announcement.
The news comes during a nationwide celebration of health centers this week.
On Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Health New England and Mass Health will provide car seat safety and installation guidance at the Community Health Center’s Greenfield location at 489 Bernardston Rd.
Later that afternoon, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., a nurse will perform body mass index (BMI) screenings for all ages at the Greenfield site.
You can reach Chris Shores at:
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