Community Health Centers
Community health centers serve as the health care safety net for medically underserved areas. Directed by boards with majority consumer membership, health centers focus on meeting the basic health care needs of their individual communities. Community health centers maintain an open-door policy, providing treatment regardless of an individual's income or insurance coverage. UMass Medical School's Center for Health Policy and Research plays a key role in developing and expanding federally-qualified community health centers in Massachusetts as a strategy to improve access to health care for individuals and families, particularly those served by MassHealth.
The Center for Health Policy and Research supports the development and expansion of community health centers by:
- Providing planning and start-up assistance to communities interested in developing new federally-qualified health centers,
- Supporting community health centers' expansion to new communities,
- Offering consultative assistance to community health centers as they develop new program capacity, such as in the integration of behavioral and medical care, implementation of chronic disease programs, and creation of medical homes,
- Asssisting rural and other regional health networks as they facilitate planning and service collaboration, and
- Developing and supporting oral health service, including infrastructure grants, scholarship and loan repayment, and practice management support.
Our team of expert staff and consultants provides a wide range of services including:
- Education on the requirements for developing a community health center,
- Initial community assessment and planning to evaluate the feasibility of qualifying for federal health center designation,
- Identification of potential health care resources and facilitation of partnerships,
- Development of business plans and completion of applications for federal funding, and
- Underwriting start-up costs for items such as building renovation, asbestos removal, medical equipment purchases, and salary subsidies.
Infrastructure Development and Consultation
Many community health centers face the challenge of needing to expand their programs while facing increased financial pressure. UMass Medical School's Center for Health Policy and Research provides needed expertise and/or financial support to strengthen their performance and develop new programs. Key to establishment and continuity of the community health center program is the infrastructure development support that is provided by the Center for Health Policy and Research.
Recent examples include:
- Funding to establish or expand oral health initiatives, open new satellites, create school-based preventive programs, and add oral surgery services,
- Coordinating chronic disease treatment programs to address disparities in health status for racial and ethnic minorities,
- Funding and programmatic support to six regional collaborations of community health centers and community mental health centers to work toward better integration of behavioral health and medical care services, and
- Developing an initiative to assist community health centers in becoming the identified medical homes for their patients.
Our team works with community health centers on:
- Integration of mental health and primary care services,
- Leadership mentoring, and
- Redesign of medical records and front office operations.