A $650,000 federal Health and Human Services Department grant will be used to create Chautauqua County's first federally qualified health center.
The Chautauqua Health Center, which has been in the works for five years, will provide medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 5,000 residents in Chautauqua County and is expected to open by October. The center will be located on Central Avenue, Dunkirk.
"This is a huge win for Chautauqua County residents that will now have a federally qualified health center for the very first time," said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. "Residents of Chautauqua County have long needed this center and I applaud the Department of Health and Human Services for stepping up to the plate and providing funding to create it. Now, more than 5,000 local residents that need health care will have somewhere to turn.
In 2007, Chautauqua County was recognized as one of the poorest counties in the country without a federally qualified health center. Statistics show county residents suffer from diabetes, asthma and heart disease at rates that are higher than the national average. The Chautauqua County Health Network and the Community Health Center Association of New York State applied for and were awarded a HRSA Community Health Center Planning Grant to investigate ways to expand healthcare coverage and access within the county. The planning committee then applied for the Health and Human Services grant money to create The Chautauqua Center Inc. to increase access to adequate healthcare in the county.
Schumer said creating the Chautauqua Center Inc. as a federally qualified health center will allow the center to be eligible for various grants and other funding opportunities that will allow it to provide primary and preventative services in a county where there is a lack of access to adequate health care. The newly established center will provide medical, dental and behavioral health services to more than 5,000 of the underserved in Chautauqua County.
"We want to thank Senator Schumer for his support and for helping to secure this federal funding. The Chautauqua Center will be a tremendous asset to the local community and we look forward to opening our doors this fall," said Michael Pease, interim executive director for the new Chautauqua Center.
In New York, community health centers provide affordable and accessible primary medical, dental and preventive care to more than 1.4 million New Yorkers at more than 470 sites in urban, suburban and rural settings.