Community Health Center of Franklin County lands $88K grant for renovations in Orange 

Staff Writer
Published: 11/16/2022 10:50:31 AM

ORANGE — The Community Health Center of Franklin County has been awarded a $88,340 grant for renovations made at its Orange facility.

The health center recently announced the money it has received from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, a non-profit organization in Worcester, as part of its 2022 Activation Fund, which supports one-year projects that activate creative and innovative approaches to alleviating community health concerns in central Massachusetts. This funding offsets some of the costs of building out and furnishing unfinished office space at 119 New Athol Road to accommodate administrative, patient services, and community health worker staff, maximizing clinic space for direct patient care.

“It’s always exciting to receive a grant of monies, especially because we have so many projects we want to do and not always the money to do them,” said Jessica Calabrese, the health center’s chief operating officer serving as CEO until Dr. Allison van der Velden returns from maternity leave. 

Calabrese said the grant will allow the health center to open a new patient services department, which she said will handle all phone calls, registration and scheduling, and assisting patients with insurance questions. She explained a portion of the building’s second floor was professionally renovated to create the new department. She said contractors agreed to hold off on billing until the health center learned whether it had received the grant. Calabrese said the remainder of the roughly $450,000 bill will be paid through the health center’s operating funds.

“Every bit helps,” she said about the grant.

Founded in 1997, the Community Health Center of Franklin County purchased the multi-unit property on Route 2A in Orange, formerly known as Aubuchon Plaza, in 2021 and renamed it Health Center Plaza. Its primary care and dental clinics occupy two suites within the plaza, and other suites are leased to mission-adjacent organizations, such as Behavioral Health Network, GAAMHA, and Community Action Pioneer Valley WIC Center.

Amie Shei, president and CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, said the foundation reaches out to organizations in the region that have not previously received funds from The Health Foundation.

“So we were thrilled they had a great project that fit the Activation Fund,” she said this week. “There’s such a need for medical, dental and behavioral health services these days. People are experiencing long delays in getting the services they need. It really was a great project.”

Shei said the decision was made in September.

“We always receive many more applications than we’re able to fund,” she said.

The Health Foundation was established in 1999 with the proceeds from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO. As of this spring, the foundation has assets of approximately $90 million, and has awarded at least $50 million in grants since 2000. More information is available at or by calling 508-438-0009.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-930-4120.


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