A Solid Foundation for Building A Healthy Community
By Talia Whyte
The Mattapan Community Health Center and the Whittier Street Health Center held groundbreakings for their respective new facilities recently. The new Mattapan center will be located in Mattapan Square, where there is currently a Citizen’s Bank and an open lot, while the Whittier center in Roxbury will open its doors next to the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in January 2012. Whittier and Mattapan have received both federal stimulus and private funding to make their projects possible, which will also help create more construction and medical employment opportunities for residents in the community.
The funding is much needed for these centers because they both care for the city’s most underserved residents in Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury, which have some of the most severe health care problems, ranging from infant mortality to sexually transmitted diseases.
It is also the hope of many health care professionals that the upgrades for local community health centers will help lessen the number of patients seeking non-emergency care in hospital ERs. According to a recent Boston Globe article while “community health centers are seeing more patients, state data show that ER visits in Massachusetts climbed 9 percent from 2004 to 2008, an increase that mirrored national gains.”
“This is the acid test for health centers,’’ said Daniel Hawkins of the National Association of Community Health Centers to the Globe. “Can they do the job? I believe they can, but only time will tell.’’