Haverhill Family Health Center Celebrates Second Anniversary, Outlines Ambitious Plans

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center President and CEO Guy L. Fish addresses members of the center’s Business Leaders Network during the fall of 2022 on the second anniversary of launching the Haverhill Family Health Center. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill Family Health Center celebrated its second birthday this week, welcoming members of its Business Leaders Network in Tuesday for an update.

The nonprofit Health Center at 755 Main St., near the intersection with Primrose Street, is operated by Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. President and CEO Guy L. Fish told guests how the health center is different.

“This is primary care. This is at the most fundamental level of sharing with your provider—your physician, your nurse practitioner—what’s going on in your life. In particular for under-resourced communities, being able to understand that the reason your sugar is high is because you couldn’t afford your insulin because you had to choose between that or your electric bill because your lights were off already for a week or two. These are the things that are very real and our clinicians are expert family practitioners. They get to that to that level of intimacy with their teams that are able to really work with people on their on-the-ground conditions. That’s what we do,” he explained.

Fish said he was drawn to Greater Lawrence Family Health Center a year and a half ago for several reasons, chief among them is that it is the first community health center in the world to host a physician residency program that normally are hosted by the big teaching hospitals.

He noted the pandemic and changes in medical care reimbursement mean the Health Center is also changing for the better how it delivers care. He compared the old model with toll booths on the turnpikes.

“Everybody has to slow down, pick a lane and go through a single toll agent—one through 10. Fee for service. The toll agent is guess who? The doctor. You don’t see the doctor; we don’t get paid. Everything has to slow down to go through the doctor. But, really, the doctor should be focused on the sickest of the sick. And, then we have a team, of people that can actually help with clinical pharmacist, nurse practitioners, behavioral health people who can take care of that middle tie,” Fish said.

He said upcoming projects, which energize both his physician and venture capital roots, are a women’s health center, substance abuse disorder and pharmacy programs for the elderly.

One project, in particular, is the renovation of DyeWorks in Lawrence which will bring together affordable housing, commercial space and essential services. Groundwork Lawrence and Lawrence Community Works are collaborating on the project which will feature a “culturally inspired” grocer and a Greater Lawrence Family Health Center pharmacy and six to eight exam rooms for acute services.

DyeWorks was the location where cotton was dyed before it was put into textiles during the industrial heyday.

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