Health Care Clinics Need Funds for Supplies to Help Coronavirus Patients

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The fact is, not everyone can afford health insurance. But facilities like Whittier Street Health Center in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood provide relief for the uninsured.

"Whittier Street's been around for over 86 years," said the health center's infectious control officer, Melissa Leaston. "It's always been a beacon of hope in this neighborhood."

Leaston says there are people in the neighborhood who rely on the service Whittier Street provides.

"We have some of the most vulnerable population here in Roxbury and those people depend on us to meet their medical needs," she said.

Over 300 health centers like Whittier, and Neponset Health Center in Dorchester, help those in need. Now, they have a need: money.

"We need stabilization funds now due to a drop in patient service revenue caused by us transitioning from primary health care to urgent health care and to meet the challenges of Corona and COVID-19," said James Hunt, the CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Helath Centers.

The organization requested funds from Gov. Charlie Baker in a letter. As the overseer of the 300 plus facilities, Hunt knows how much the funds to stay open mean to over a million patients who rely on their services.

"It would be a shame to turn the clock back and be sending patients to emergency rooms who could get better care where they live in these neighborhoods," he said.

The influx of projected COVID-19 patients isn't just a financial burden, but one that will require gowns, gloves and masks these centers simply don't have enough of.

Leaston was asked if Whittier Street would be able to treat patients who might have the virus if the center doesn't have the right supplies.

"Unfortunately, that's a concern," she said. "We wouldn't be able to treat people because we also have to have safety among the staff, as well, and our families that are counting on us to come home."

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