NASHUA – It’s taken 18 months and $5.2 million, but finally the newly expanded and federally qualified Harbor Homes health care center is open for business.
Officials gathered Wednesday to show off the brand new operation at 45 High Street, which unifies health services under one roof and is designed to streamline health care for the homeless and others in Nashua.
Harbor Homes already had a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center, or FQHC, but the space was small and the need significant.
"Our need was there. We were able to cull together the data, applied and received a $5 million grant, plus other funding sources," said Scott Slattery of Harbor Homes Wednesday.
Renovating the space, part of Nashua’s original telephone building was "not an easy task, there were lots and lots of challenges that came with it," Slattery said.
The new space covers about 38,000 square feet. There is a main clinic, a waiting area, a cafeteria and commercial kitchen and a conference room. Data and phone lines have been updated. Eventually a medical respite area will be available as well.
Carol Furlong, who directs the center’s medical efforts, said now a coordinated team of medical professionals – primary care, mental health and dental providers, can combine their efforts at one site.
"What we’re able to do now that we haven’t been able to do in the past is integrate those services," she said.
More than 100 people gathered Wednesday to celebrate the event and tour the new facility, which has characteristics similar to any contemporary doctor or dentist office.
Furlong said, "compared to other municipalities in the state, we are one of very few health centers for the homeless. That’s what really distinquishes us from the others. We’re treating homeless individuals. We’re the only one that provides all three services in one site."
"It’s another great opportunity for our community, another resource for those that are unisured, underinsured, homeless, folks that are in need of medical care, dental care, affordable care. That’s what it means," Slattery said. "It also takes some of the stigma, too. There’s a place that you can come to be treated with respecrt, treated with dignity, that’s what it’s really about."
Harbor Homes CEO Peter Kelleher said the other donors "see it as an investment. We believe we’ll be able to demonstrate cost effective outcomes for people."
Wednesday’s ceremony, held at the High Street building’s training room, featured Gov. Maggie Hassan. In her remarks, Hassan praised the effort, and private and public partnership, and "individuals coming together to make sure that we all have a chance to be independent, work hard, to contribute and to then give back to the people who helped us in the first place."
Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590, DHimsel@nashuatelegraph.com or follow him on Twitter @Telegraph_DonH.