Two years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney (all D-Del.) announced over $1 million in federal funding for Westside Family Health Center as part of the Affordable Care Act's investment in federally-qualified community health centers to expand access to health care services while reducing costs. The award is part of more than $728 million in Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding to support 398 renovation and construction projects at health centers across the country -- helping to build, expand and improve community health centers in Delaware and nationwide. This particular award will help Westside Family Healthcare expand its buildings and improve services to provide more primary and preventive health services to Delawareans. Overall, this funding from the Affordable Care Act will expand health care services to an additional 860,000 patients.
The federal funding will enable Westside Family Healthcare Center to add dental services to its Dover facility, as well as providing for additional space for pharmacy, clinician and support staff offices. The expansion will create about 10 new positions at Westside's Dover location. Westside estimates that the new dental office will eventually provide care to over 2,000 patients in Dover. It is expected that the dental practice will grow rapidly due to current lack of access to dental services in Kent County.
"In order to strengthen our health care system, we must keep people as healthy as possible and prevent them from becoming sick in the first place," said Sen. Carper. "Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, this investment in Westside Family Healthcare and other community health centers throughout the nation will greatly reduce the number of Delawareans and other Americans suffering from common, costly - and often preventable - diseases which, in turn, will reduce our country's health care costs. Everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care and this much-deserved and much-needed award will aid Westside in its commitment to the health and well-being of Delawareans, regardless of their income levels. I commend the Department of Health and Human Services for its work toward providing affordable, quality care to more patients in Delaware and throughout the nation."
"A major factor for the quality of life in a community is how accessible and affordable healthcare is to the residents," said Sen. Coons. "The medical field is constantly making groundbreaking discoveries and developing new technologies to save lives and it is imperative that our local community health centers continue to implement these best practices and improve existing services. This award by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will allow Westside Family Healthcare to provide high-quality care to even more Delawareans of all economic levels."
"Access to quality, affordable healthcare is essential to communities across Delaware," said Congressman Carney. "Westside Family Healthcare provides critical services for the uninsured and underserved in our state. During my years in public service, I've seen firsthand how Westside's dedicated team delivers essential healthcare to those who need it most. I'm pleased that Westside has received this grant, enabling it to expand its services to even more Delawareans. Moving forward, I will continue supporting the great work of all our community health centers."
"The greater Kent County community has long been underserved in the area of oral health access, especially for those who are uninsured or underinsured," said Lolita A. Lopez, FACHE, President & Chief Executive Officer of Westside Family Healthcare. "We are excited at the opportunity to bring much needed oral health care services to this community as we continue to expand access to primary and preventative care in an effort to improve the health and well being of those in need."
The awards are part of a series of capital investments that are made available to community health centers under the Affordable Care Act which provides $9.5 billion to expand services over five years and $1.5 billion to support major construction and renovation projects at community health centers.
The Department of Health and Human Services also released the results of a new report that found that the Affordable Care Act has already supported 190 construction and renovation projects at health centers and the creation of 67 new health center sites across the country, and will support more than 485 new health center construction and renovation projects and the creation of 245 new community health center sites over the next two years. Currently, community health centers are serving nearly 3 million additional patients and will serve an additional 1.3 million additional new patients in the next two years. Moreover, the report found that since the beginning of 2009, employment at community health centers nationwide has increased by 15 percent, in part due to the increased investment in community health centers through the Affordable Care Act.