With the lowest amount of COVID testing of any Boston neighborhood, the Charlestown community has been mostly neglected during this pandemic. However, that is about to change with the opening of a new testing site operated by NEW Health Charlestown. Located at 15 Tufts Street, the site has walk-up or drive-thru capabilities and is available for all residents who have at least one symptom of COVID-19. Visits will be made by appointment to reduce crowds and wait time. The testing site will operate Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The site is in the Bunker Hill Housing Development, the largest public housing development in New England. Many residents struggle with substance use disorder, unemployment, and food insecurity. Since the start of this pandemic, these issues have been rapidly exacerbated.
In line with NEW Health’s past endeavors to combat food insecurity, supermarket gift certificates will be handed out to those being tested who indicate an inability to purchase the necessary groceries.
This spring, NEW Health will plant its annual rooftop garden at the Charlestown facility. The harvested herbs and vegetables will be used by the health center’s nutritionist to teach parents how to cook healthy meals on a budget.
The local food pantry is also situated next to the testing tent, but is only open two days a month.
NEW Health is looking at ways of increasing the frequency of food distribution during these difficult times. The staff at the health center and online donations have brought in thousands to help in its efforts.
“I am proud of our staff and the community coming together during these trying times,” said CEO Jim Luisi. “The virus affects all of us and we have to work together to beat this.”
The site in Charlestown will also be open to residents of the North End. Appointments can be made if they are displaying at least one symptom of COVID-19. Villa Michelangelo senior housing residents will be offered testing at their site shortly.
NEW Health, a Mass General Hospital and Boston Medical Center affiliate, is a Federally Qualified Health Center. It offers a range of services including family medicine, behavioral health, dental, vision, and addiction services. The center recently received a $60,000 grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund and $305,000 from the Cares Act to operate the testing facility.