Wheeler Receives Community Health Center Grant to Support Bristol

Aug 13, 2015
Wheeler Clinic logoBristol, Conn., (August 13, 2015) – Wheeler’s Health & Wellness Center at 10 North Main Street, Bristol, has been awarded a new access point grant as a federally qualified health center (FQHC) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand health care services to meet the needs of residents of Bristol and the surrounding communities.   The center was designated as a federally qualified health center look-alike (FQHC LAL) in May and has now been selected to receive community health center funding.  

Wheeler’s award to serve the Bristol community is a part of the $169 million investment in Affordable Care Act funding to 266 new health center sites in 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for the delivery of comprehensive primary health care services in communities that need them most. These new health center sites are projected to increase access to health care services for over 1.2 million patients across the country. 

“This award will significantly strengthen our efforts to meet the needs of underserved residents in Bristol and the surrounding communities by providing critical financial support that will allow Wheeler to expand integrated primary care, behavioral health and dental services to meet community needs,” said Susan Walkama, LCSW, president and chief executive officer, Wheeler Clinic. “The investment strengthens our efforts to work with local community partners to deliver high-quality, accessible care to medically underserved, low-income and vulnerable individuals and families.

“The outstanding support we’ve received from Kurt Barwis and Bristol Hospital, local social service providers and Bristol leaders, including Mayor Cockayne and Representative Boukus, Representative Betts and Representative Nicastro, speaks to this community’s commitment to ensuring accessible, efficient, whole-person care is available locally,” said Walkama.  “We are also incredibly grateful for the advocacy of Governor Malloy, Lieutenant Governor Wyman, Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Larson.  Their support of our efforts in Bristol was instrumental in bringing these critical resources to Connecticut.

“The receipt of this grant on the 50th anniversary of the country’s first heath care center(s) is especially notable,” added Walkama.  “For decades, community health care centers have effectively met the demand for primary care and other services in communities where they are most needed. Wheeler shares this commitment to meeting community need through comprehensive, integrated care that helps individuals and families live healthier lives.”  

Bristol has been identified by federal authorities as a primary care, mental health and dental health professional shortage area. The service area is characterized by high rates of uninsured and low-income individuals and families living below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. More than 10,000 low-income residents of Bristol have limited access to primary care services, and 8.7 percent of city residents are uninsured. Currently, only 18 percent of the low-income population in the service area receives care from a federally qualified health center.

Community health centers like Wheeler’s have played a vital role in local health care systems across the country for more than 50 years, serving the primary health care needs of 23 million patients in more than 9,000 local communities. They provide affordable, accessible health services for millions of Americans, and their focus on comprehensive preventive care and unique local needs creates $24 billion in annual savings to the health care system.

Wheeler’s Health and Wellness Center serves local residents of all ages and offers primary and walk-in care; well-child care and immunizations; physical examinations; women’s health; integrated behavioral health care; preventive dental services and coordination and referral for dental care and specialty health care services; and tobacco cessation services and support.

Wheeler’s Health & Wellness Center has served more than 1,000 individuals to date. The federal community health center grant will support expansion of services over the next two years to reach 3,000 individuals annually.  The center continues to maximize community resources and bring additional, critically needed resources to the Bristol region, such as hypertension and tobacco cessation programs, substance abuse care facilitation, vaccines, screenings, community outreach and more.  Grants from the Connecticut Health Foundation, the Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and the United Way of West Central Connecticut also provided critical resources to help Wheeler establish the center’s integrated services.

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Wheeler Health & Wellness Center 
The Wheeler Health & Wellness Center at 10 North Main Street, Bristol, is open to the public Monday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (walk-ins welcome from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.). The Wheeler Health & Wellness Center provides an array of behavioral health and medical health care services to individuals and families, including primary and walk-in care for all ages; well-child care and immunizations; physical examinations; women’s health; integrated behavioral health care; preventive dental services and coordination and referral for dental care and specialty health care services; free tobacco cessation services and support. Services are available in English and Spanish. Medicaid, Medicare and commercial health insurance are welcome, and a sliding fee scale is available. For information, call 860.584.6555.

Wheeler Clinic
Wheeler provides comprehensive solutions that address complex health issues, providing individuals, families and communities with accessible, innovative care that encourages recovery, health and growth at all stages of life.  Our integrated approach to primary and behavioral health, education and recovery creates measurable results, positive outcomes and hopeful tomorrows for more than 30,000 individuals across Connecticut each year. Learn more: www.wheelerclinic.org.

Joanne Morrison 
Associate Director, Communications 
860.793.4403 (Office)