LOWELL – Lowell Community Health Center has received a $50,000 grant from the Commonwealth Care Alliance.
The grant, one of 21 awarded statewide, will be used at Lowell to provide care for people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes. The CCA will award a total of $1.05 million in grants.
LCHC serves about half of Lowell’s population, with 71% of their patients living at or below the poverty line, and more than half of their patients are people of color in 2018, according to a fact sheet. information provided by the Center.
“From March through today, we are continually seeking additional funding to enable us to provide our services and sustain ourselves as we continue to work during this pandemic,” said Susan West Levine, CEO of LCHC. “This grant is essential to do just that.”
West Levine said the shift to telehealth early in the pandemic strained the LCHC, as it did many other health centers across the country, so this funding frees up resources for the response to the pandemic and other urgent needs. The LCHC will likely be a key distributor of COVID-19 vaccines once they become available to the public.
The grant will be used to fund routine screenings and follow-up appointments needed to keep patients with chronic conditions healthy, according to Levine.
The Commonwealth Care Alliance is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit community health care organization. Its two health plans serve 38,000 members who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Nearly a quarter of their members receive care at FQHCs like Lowell.
“These programs are really specific to the most vulnerable members of our community. These are typically people who are on Medicare and Medicaid, people with significant co-morbidities, a number of the population we have, almost 8%, are homeless,” said Umar Farooq, CEO of Mass. at the CCA. “These are individuals who, unfortunately, have generally been neglected by society.”
The CCA has awarded grants of up to $50,000 each to other organizations, including Lynn Community Health Center, Uphams’ Corner Health Center, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and Harbor Community Health Center. These grants can be used for preventive care, flu shots, and COVID-19 shots.
“Health centers are essential to the infrastructure of a community and equally essential to the overall health system and the members who significantly depend on these access points,” said Farooq. “So we’re thrilled to partner with Lowell, a phenomenal community, great leadership in this clinic.”
West Levine is also excited about the partnership with CCA and is grateful for the ease of the grant process. “They were [instrumental] supporting us in the care of our patients and making our job so easy by making that money available in a way that didn’t require submitting a lengthy grant application,” she said. “Their goal was to put the money in our hands to facilitate the work of our mission, and that is a beautiful thing.”