New unit at Holyoke Health Center will expand medication-assisted treatment
HOLYOKE — Construction on a new, 6,000-square-foot unit at the Holyoke Health Center that will expand treatment for patients with opioid-related conditions is expected to be done in September, officials said during a tour Thursday.
The event, held to coincide with National Health Center Week, recognized the pivotal roles local health centers play in urban and rural America.
Jay Breines, CEO of the Holyoke Health Center, said the center’s goal remains increasing access to health care for Holyoke and area residents. The new Community Health Programs Department will expand the center’s medication-assisted treatment program, which uses medications like Suboxone to treat addiction.
The health center “routinely provides services to patients who are among the state’s most medically vulnerable and complicated,” Breines said in a statement.
Holyoke Health Center is also among over a dozen community health centers in Massachusetts that formed an accountable care organization — a group of health care providers “who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to the Medicare patients they serve,” according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Through the organization, the health centers access state and federal dollars “to support the changes necessary to improve the effectiveness of the health care systems,” Breines said.
In addition to its medication-assisted treatment program, Holyoke Health Center uses such funding for school-based health programs and home delivery of medications for chronically ill patients.
U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal attended the event, saying accountable care organizations and the Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare — ensure Massachusetts families receive quality medical services.
Neal said 100% of Massachusetts children are covered either by private insurance, the Affordable Care Act or through an accountable care organization, as are 97% of adults. “I made sure, upon request, those dollars continue to flow,” said Neal, a Springfield Democrat and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Holyoke Health Center and health centers across Massachusetts continue to offer “superb” care, Neal said.
Mayor Alex B. Morse — who recently announced that he’s running against Neal in the 2020 election for the state’s 1st Congressional District — thanked the health center for its service to the city and region. He said his staff often assist constituents who need medical services or help navigating the health care system.
“The work you’re doing here is incredibly important,” he said.
The mayor thanked the center for bolstering its program offering Suboxone, a drug that decreases opioid withdrawal symptoms, saying addiction affects all families — including his.
Morse read a proclamation praising the efforts of community health centers nationwide that provide care for underserved communities.
“As the country’s largest primary care network, health centers are the health care home for 26 million Americans in over 11,000 communities across the nation,” it said. “One in every twelve people in the United States gets their care in a community health center.”
Morse wrote that community health centers, which employ more than 200,000 people, are “economic engines,” contributing $56 billion to local economies.
“The health care model continues to prove an effective means of overpowering barriers to healthcare access, including geography, income and insurance status, improving health care outcomes and reducing health care system costs,” the proclamation stated.
Holyoke Health Center has also launched a pharmacy delivery service, increased dental care at Holyoke Public Schools and added an eye care clinic.
More than 22,000 patients a year get care through Holyoke Health Center at its Maple Street headquarters and clinics in Chicopee and Westfield, and the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke. Of those patients, 98% live within 20 miles of the Maple Street location.