$15 Million Directed To City Health Organizations Supporting Underserved Residents

Two Bridgeport-based health organizations will receive a combined $15 million to expand access to vaccines and other health services in underserved communities, backed by the American Rescue Plan.

More in a news release from Congressman Jim Himes:

These grants will be used to expand COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, and treatment. It will also allow community health centers to expand their operational capacity and provide preventative and primary care to vulnerable patients. Optimus Health Care will receive $9,411,000, Southwest Community Health Center will receive $5,459,125, Norwalk Community Health Center will receive $3,153,750, and Family Centers will receive $775,000 in federal funding.

“Southwest Connecticut’s community health centers have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19,” said Himes. “This grant will allow these vital organizations to expand their services, including vaccine distribution, to the vulnerable populations they serve. The COVID-19 pandemic is characterized by its disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, this funding works to provide equity in the pandemic response.”

“These funds will strengthen our ability to wipe out any remnants of Covid and allow us to serve more patients,” said Ludwig M. Spinelli, CEO of Optimus Healthcare. “It will allow us to open some new sites and services. The support will improve health care in Southwest CT.”

“This investment is truly going to change the healthcare landscape in Bridgeport,” said Mollie Melbourne, President/CEO of Southwest Community Health Center. “Our city has been ravaged by COVID and with this support, we will be able to ensure access to primary health care for all in our community. These dollars are life changing and lifesaving for the people of Bridgeport. Thank you for your trust and confidence in our health center and for providing us with the resources we need to continue the fight against COVID and build back stronger.”

“Family Centers Inc. has been engaged in the battle against COVID-19 since the early days of the pandemic,” said Dennis Torres, Family Centers’ Chief Health Officer. “We continue operating our walk-up and drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in Greenwich and Stamford, and since January have been offering a full-time COVID Vaccination Center and pop-up vaccine clinics throughout town, doing our best to meet the demands and stressors COVID-19 has placed on the healthcare delivery system. The grant will allow us to continue this work, paying for staff and supplies to carry out front-line work necessary to fight this dreaded disease and help get control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with our partners in Greenwich and Stamford, we are grateful for Congressman Himes and the rest of the Connecticut delegation in Washington DC to have come together to marshal the resources necessary for us to do the work required to beat COVID.”

“Despite the strain on our resources the past year, our health center chose to continue meeting the pediatric, women’s health, adult medicine, and behavioral health needs of our patients,” said Kenneth Waller, FACHE, Norwalk Community Health Center Chief Executive Officer, “while providing free community COVID-19 testing as well as on-site and mobile COVID-19 clinics in underserved neighborhoods. In the middle of the pandemic, we also opened a permanent satellite location with a skeleton staff. The funds that Congressman Himes and our congressional delegation secured for us will be used to sustain and expand health and wellness services. It gives us the ability to pilot new ways of delivering service to more individuals and families, and the agility to quickly respond to changing needs in our patient population and community. We are grateful to Congressman Himes for his ongoing advocacy in Washington and support that improves access to care to our most vulnerable families.”

“The Norwalk Community Health Center is a key resource to providing health care services for all people in Norwalk,” said Norwalk Mayor Harry W. Rilling. “They have been an important partner in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and have continued to provide critical services to their patients every day. This grant funding is great news for the Norwalk Community Health Center as they work tirelessly to meet the expanding and evolving needs of our community.”

The ARP, which passed with Himes support, is a historic $1.9 trillion bill to defeat the coronavirus and mitigate the economic harm caused to the American people. The ARP provides billions to Southwest Connecticut’s families, workers, schools, small businesses, local governments, and more. Additionally, ARP will fund the administration of vaccines and the mitigation of COVID-19. Click here for more information.


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