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 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.