East Boston Neighborhood Health Center

In the late 1960s, an East Boston community group decided to address a critical need for health care. In an area geographically isolated from greater Boston — accessible only by tunnel or bridge — local residents were spending up to two hours traveling via public transportation to receive treatment.

Neighbors were living with untreated conditions, pregnant women weren’t getting prenatal care early enough, and important health screenings were unavailable. From needing an ambulance to addressing pollution from Logan airport, it was time for the community to make a significant and proactive change.

The community group, and our first board of directors, felt responsible for the district at large; a diverse population with a strong sense of neighborhood and sharing. These founding board members were clear about the type of care the health center would provide to its largely immigrant and economically struggling population. Serving the disadvantaged would not mean making sacrifices in quality of care; rather, the health center would become an institution where every community member — including the board of directors — would want to come for their own medical treatment.

In 1970, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center opened its doors. Since that launch, the health center has operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Today we are the only health center in New England, and one of the few in the country, to provide continuous care.

The health center grew rapidly to meet demand, as community members were finally able to receive quality medical care in their own neighborhood. We expanded our scope and services, based on the needs of the community. In 1978, EBNHC moved to a new facility, and experienced dramatic growth in primary care and specialty services. All of our basic services increased exponentially, and have continued to do so. Our onsite laboratory expanded and became certified.

To address the nutrition and support needs of mothers and young children, in October 1986 we opened the East Boston Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. The East Boston WIC offers a range of health and nutrition services to help participants put healthy behaviors into action.

We launched the Elder Service Plan (now Neighborhood PACE) in 1990, part of the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, to help seniors stay in their own homes while receiving nursing care. Our integrated plan is the ideal solution for seniors and their families who seek high-quality care that values their personal wishes and way of life. As a result of our program, our elders are living among us, with dignity and respect in the community that they call home.

Children’s Access to Coordinated Healthcare (CATCH), a comprehensive care management for children with multiple and severe disabilities, launched in 1995. Caring for children with multiple disabilities requires a high level of communication and coordination among care providers, medical specialists, social services, schools, local agencies, care centers, and families. Using a team approach to early intervention and overall health and development, CATCH manages each child’s care among all these specialists, keeping families informed and involved every step of the way. This coordinated effort helps us to keep these children as healthy as possible and reduces the strain and worry for their families.

Established in 1995, Project SHINE (Support, Healthcare, INtervention, Education) is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary HIV services program, developed to meet an essential need in our community by providing and coordinating medical care for individuals with HIV and AIDS, and those at risk. Our high-level clinical expertise allows us to stay in step with the rapidly changing technologies that help us to manage the disease. Our goal is to decrease the barriers to accessing primary and specialty care services for all individuals within the community who are HIV-positive or are at risk for acquiring HIV. In 2007, Project SHINE launched a new rapid testing clinic, enabling individuals to receive confidential test results in 20 minutes.

Let’s Get Movin’, a lifestyle-change program for children and teens, launched in 2002. This initiative promotes physical activity, teaches proper nutrition, and helps young people make healthier lifestyle choices. The program is built on three main components: medical monitoring, physical activity, and nutrition education. Let’s Get Movin’ is also proactive in food acquisition, bringing fresh produce to the East Boston community through farmers’ markets and the distribution of farm shares. In 2007, Let’s Get Movin’ was featured in the Discovery Channel’s Healthy Steps to Treating Childhood Obesity.

In 2003, we opened an onsite, clinical 340B pharmacy to significantly increase patient access to medication. Within a year of our opening, we filled more than 150,000 prescriptions for 18,000 users, three times the amount of an average retail pharmacy. Those numbers have continued to grow as patient access to prescription medications significantly improved, along with the quality and value of the community’s health care. A state-of-the-art fulfillment system helps us to meet this demand with speed and accuracy. In 2012, we opened a second pharmacy at 20 Maverick Square.
Our innovations in practice design have developed patient-centered care through HRSA-sponsored collaboratives and an array of care-management services that improve patient access and navigation. Our ability to maintain innovations in clinical practice are best demonstrated by our participation in the Health Disparities Collaborative for Diabetes. This effort began in 2005 with 120 patients. It developed into the Chronic Disease Education and Management (CDEM) program, which now serves over 2,000 diabetic patients and has dropped the average A1C from 8.5 to 7.6 (which represents a significant drop in morbidity and the expense associated with caring for those co-morbidities). CDEM’s bilingual diabetes program is recognized by the American Diabetes Association. Our expertise in these types of care models mean that we are perfectly positioned to embark on the process of becoming designated as a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH).
In 2005, we launched the Education & Training Institute, which provides our employees and the community with job skills and career advancement opportunities. The Education & Training Institute provides the education and skill training needed for individual growth and advancement. By bringing education and training opportunities to the community, we address both sides of a vital employment issue. We provide employees and community members with the education and skills needed to obtain well-paying jobs in health care, which in turn creates a source of qualified employees to meet EBNHC’s staffing requirements. In 2006, EBNHC partnered with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) to become the official East Boston satellite campus, offering college-level courses to EBNHC staff as well as to residents of East Boston and the surrounding communities. The Education & Training Institute is the home of the Jobs 2 Careers (J2C) initiative, funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In 2010, our urgent care department became a designated Satellite Emergency Facility and is today the only such site in East Boston. In 2010, our Satellite Emergency Facility became a designated Baby Safe Haven.

In 2009, EBNHC was awarded significant grant funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA): $12M through the Facility Investment Program (FIP) and $1.9M through the Capital Improvement Program (CIP). The CIP funds went to work at our Gove Street Renovation Project, which included new Digital Mammography, X-Ray and Ultrasound suites, enabling our patients to have access to the best and most accurate imaging technology. The FIP funds enabled us to build a new flagship clinic at 20 Maverick Square, East Boston, which opened in June 2012. Our LEED-certified building encompasses nearly 50,000 square feet of clinical and administrative space, enabling us to keep up with skyrocketing demand for services while providing an economic boost to the East Boston community.

In 2013, we were recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home, the highest level of distinction.

We look forward to many more decades of serving our community members with the high-quality health care they depend on and trust.

read-more +

Content & Resources

Photo Galleries