Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) is a Joint Commission Accredited, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and has been caring for inhabitants of Lawrence and its neighboring communities since 1980. It has been a Teaching Health Center since 1994, as it was the first Community Health Center sponsored Residency in the country.
The Health Center has more than 634 employees working in seven primary care sites, two school-based health centers, 15 shelters and other satellites within the city’s 7 square miles. The presence of this dual purpose Patient Centered Medical Home (NCQA recognition, Level 3) ensures that adults, children and families have access to quality primary health care. This year, GLFHC’s 62,000 patients will make more than 270,000 medical visits to its seven clinics, which are located in the city’s densely populated multi-ethnic neighborhoods, as well as the cities of Methuen and Haverhill. Health Center physicians will deliver more than 800 babies and make 12,000 hospital visits.
As the primary care physician for more than half of the adults and children residing in the city, GLFHC is the leader in community and primary medicine in Lawrence. GLFHC staff cares for patients throughout their lives, and includes 100-plus family physicians (40 of whom are residents), in addition to a variety of other clinicians. Ambulatory acute care is available seven days a week at GLFHC clinics, including expanded evening hours. GLFHC offers specialty care, such as gynecology, high-risk obstetrics, colposcopy, and on-site pharmacy services (340B Federal designation). Approximately 65 percent of the Health Center staff members are bicultural residents of the local area, and 75 percent are bilingual. GLFHC works with other area providers to ensure that patients receive continuity of care.
In addition to “providing a network of high quality comprehensive health care services” the Health Center’s mission statement was revised in 1995 to include “training health care professionals to respond to the needs of a culturally diverse population.” This revision of our mission statement is in recognition of the importance of the Family Medicine Residency as a core element of the Health Center. Simply stated, we are committed to: providing culturally sensitive patient care, superb medical education and an environment that is compassionate, understanding and open to continuous improvement. We have met many challenges in the past and will implement effective strategies in the future to assure we remain successful in meeting our mission.
Before community health centers were established, the impoverished and uninsured had few health care alternatives; preventive health care was nearly nonexistent. The need for primary care led to the inception of community health centers. As part of the President Johnson Administration’s “War on Poverty,” the first community health center opened at the Columbia Point Housing Project in Boston in 1965. Shortly afterward, the Office of Economic Opportunity helped establish other health centers across the country. In the past 40 years, the number of community health centers has grown from a handful to more than 1,000, providing medical care in areas where it would be otherwise unavailable. Community health centers are nonprofit corporations with boards of directors composed of 51% patients and 49% community leaders. The mission of health centers is threefold:
- To address the social conditions that affect health
- To provide comprehensive services without regard to the patient’s ability to pay
- To support the community by fostering needed change.
Find out more about GLFHC by visiting our website.