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NEW Health

Providing culturally sensitive care.

NEW Health provides a comprehensive set of health care services to meet the evolving needs of its community. Shaw’s has supported this nonprofit organization through its GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program.

Tell us about NEW Health.

NEW Health was founded in 1971 by a group of Italian-American women in the North End of Boston who identified a need for high-quality health care in the neighborhood. More than 50 years later, the mission to provide access to culturally sensitive and conveniently located care continues today.

More than 50 years later, the mission to provide access to culturally sensitive and conveniently located care continues today.

NEW Health serves the residents of the North End, Charlestown, and Waterfront neighborhoods in Boston. As a federally qualified health center and an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center, NEW Health is committed to improving the quality of health and life for those it serves by providing high quality health care that is neighborhood-based, affordable, and produces positive outcomes. NEW Health is a 2023 Health Center Quality Leader (HCQL), the only Massachusetts health center to receive a gold badge from the Health Resources and Services Administration, among the top 10 percent of health centers nationwide.

What services are you providing to the community?

NEW Health provides a wide range of services including primary care, behavioral health, dental, vision, transportation, X-ray, nutrition, pharmacy, and podiatry, to name a few!  

We’re fortunate to be part of the community health center movement. A big part of community health centers is learning what your community needs and then tailoring your services and programming to those needs that go beyond traditional health care. At NEW Health, we also provide support to the senior community, food access, pharmacy services, and more. We even extend our services into the Boston Public Schools with a school-based health center at Charlestown High School.

What sets NEW Health apart from other nonprofits in your community?

As a community health center, we have an obligation to listen to our community and address what they see as the most prominent issues.

For instance, we started the Food Access Program back in 2016 after a community needs assessment. Our community told us that a lot of resources in these neighborhoods, specifically food resources, were not affordable. Healthy options were minimal, and many were not accessible to community members.

The Food Access Program was launched and offers a variety of initiatives! We offer patients and residents bags of fresh produce every month, give grocery store gift cards to local elementary school students, maintain a rooftop community garden, and refill our community fridge in Charlestown; local residents are also encouraged to donate to the community fridge, which is open 24-7. This is a comprehensive program that we expand every year and tailor to suit current community issues. 

Please tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.

I’ve been fortunate to be at NEW Health for a few years now. Having started right out of college, I’ve had a lot of wonderful opportunities to interact with patients and residents who share their gratitude with us.

One time that stands out was when we were looking to add to our Food Access Program. With extra funds, we decided to start a new project centered on handing out produce bags directly to patients.

When we went to hand out the produce bags, one woman opened her door and said, “You guys have no idea how much this helps. I share these with my neighbors. It really helps out so much. It gives us a healthy option when it’s so hard to get to the grocery store.”

The impact of the produce distributions was even larger than we had realized. One bag a month was all it took to make a difference for a group of people.

One bag a month was all it took to make a difference for a group of people.

What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?

We recently opened a new pharmacy in Charlestown. This is a big deal in the community because there is only one other pharmacy in the entire neighborhood. Many area pharmacies also aren’t accessible or affordable for our patient population.

We were able to install this new pharmacy at our Charlestown health center site. Now, patients can access health care and a pharmacy in one building. They can get their prescriptions at a very affordable rate and access culturally sensitive care.

What do you want people to know about NEW Health?

Community health centers are so unique. They are extremely committed to their communities. It’s right there in the name! They really want to listen to what residents need and address every issue they possibly can.

Many organizations might be pigeonholed into focusing on a select set of issues that fall under one umbrella, but NEW Health is fortunate to be able to do so much at once. For example, our transportation services take patients all over the neighborhood to ensure they can get wherever they need, whether it’s doctor’s appointments, external physical therapy appointments, grocery stores, or even just to a coffee shop to socialize with their friends. Ultimately, NEW Health wants people to know how unique this organization is and how tailored it is to the needs of the community.

Ultimately, NEW Health wants people to know how unique this organization is and how tailored it is to the needs of the community.

How will you use the funds received from the Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program?

These funds will go toward our health center programming including the NEW Health Food Access Program, directly funding our produce distributions, which provide fresh bags of produce to at least 150 patients every month.

Funds may also support the purchase of grocery store gift cards for patients and local students who are immediately food insecure. We also have bags of shelf-stable food for when a patient comes in and needs a meal, so we can give it to them on the spot.

Additionally, we will use these funds to maintain our rooftop garden that we invite local schoolchildren to so that they can learn about nutrition and gardening. We take the produce we grow and put it in our community fridge in Charlestown; people can visit to donate and fill it up or take from this fridge if they are in need 24-7, 365 days of the year.

All of the funds will go toward these projects. We are very proud of this important mission.

Interview with Daniel Coakley, Public Affairs Coordinator

Published May 31, 2024.