BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Community health centers throughout the Commonwealth are open and accepting patients, and Governor Baker is encouraging residents to continue to seek care for their medical conditions, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
At a press conference on Friday, Gov. Baker said the state will be able to begin a "phased approach to reopening" when the health data shows a gradual downward slope in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
"Even still, there will be bumps along the way after that," said Baker. "We're likely going to be dealing with outbreaks until like vaccines and treatments catch up with this virus."
Baker said community health centers have been playing a huge role in fighting COVID-19 across the Commonwealth, and his administration has been partnering with those health centers to expand coronavirus testing and treatment, especially in regions hit hardest.
"They're open for business during this pandemic," said Baker. "This public awareness campaign will consist of TV and digital ads and has a very simple message: Community Health Centers are open during this crisis, and people should come in for the care that they need."
Eliza Lake is CEO of Hilltown Community Health Centers, which has five locations across central Massachusetts. Lake joined Gov. Baker at the press conference, and said the centers adapted quickly to continue to provide treatment during quarantine, which included offering telehealth options.
"[Telehealth] is providing us with the ability to meet an increasing demand for these services... It has been a vital strategy," said Lake. "Both in caring for out patients, and in helping to address some of the health centers' financial distress due to their response to the crisis."
Telehealth appointments have been especially critical for patients who received behavioral healthcare before the outbreak. According to Lake, the state's health centers have transformed their processes over the past month to provide for both COVID and non-COVID patients, mental and physical health needs.
"Whether those visits are telehealth or in-person, we don't want anyone to be neglecting their care as a result of this situation," said Lake.
(Photo: Getty Images)