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North End Waterfront Health Receives Emergency Grant to Bolster the Healthcare Safety Net

North End Waterfront Health (NEW Health) has announced an infusion of $50,000 in emergency grant funding from the medical aid organization Direct Relief, in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers.

NEW Health was among 518 federally qualified health centers to receive funding this week through Direct Relief’s $25 million COVID-19 Fund for Community Health, which recognizes the profound effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the finances, services, staff, and patients of community health centers.

NEW Health will use the funds to help its efforts to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. Funds will be used to maintain health center capacity and staffing levels during the COVID-19 public health emergency and to assure that all in-scope services will be readily available during and following the crisis.

“Access to primary care is what keeps people healthy and out of the hospital, and the frontline work of NEW Health and other nonprofit community health centers across the U.S. is more critical than ever with the onset of COVID-19,” said Direct Relief President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “Direct Relief is doing everything possible to bolster the work and support the staffs at the safety-net health facilities on which so many patients and their families rely for excellent care and trust for advice in this public health emergency.”

Nearly 30 million (1 in 12) of the country’s most vulnerable residents—including 1 in 3 individuals living in poverty, 1 in 5 Medicaid beneficiaries, and 1 in 9 children—rely on federally qualified health centers like NEW Health for their health care. That number is expected to rise as more people lose employer-sponsored insurance.

“We are grateful for this critical and immediate support as Community Health Centers work hard to keep communities safe during an unprecedented pandemic,” said Tom Van Coverden, President & CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). “We are also deeply appreciative of our longstanding partnership with Direct Relief in these uncertain times and their efforts to ensure that health centers confronting multiple challenges in underserved communities have the resources when and where they need them. We know that many donors and contributors have helped to make this fund possible, and we further extend our appreciation to all of them.”

About North End Waterfront Health:

NEW Health is a federally qualified health center and an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center, North End Waterfront Health extends its world-renowned healthcare services to people who live and work in and around Boston’s North End and Charlestown neighborhoods.

To limit the spread of COVID-19 and to comply with National and State “social distancing” mandates, the health center has converted many of its routine onsite face-to-face health center visits to telehealth visits. NEW Health has also expanded onsite testing at our site located within the Charlestown Housing Development. This will allow residents to have easy and convenient access to COVID-19 testing services and allow for more comprehensive contact tracing and public health interventions to mitigate the spread.

Furthermore, NEW Health will be operating a pop-up testing site at the Villa Michelangelo senior housing and is working on establishing a testing site in the North End.

NEW Health’s behavioral health team has increased staffing in order to care for patients in COVID-19 distress and provide emotional support to help patients cope with the stressors related to sheltering-in place and the economic challenges of the pandemic.

NEW Health’s primary function during this public health emergency is to ensure the safety of all patients and health center personnel and to minimize COVID-19 exposure.