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Federal grant to fund new UCFS medical center in Norwich

Norwich — United Community and Family Services will use a new $719,000 federal American Rescue Plan grant to create an “intimate” holistic care center in a vacant storefront in the Meadows Plaza, next door to its current larger health center.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced Thursday that UCFS and Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic will receive grants through ARP funding to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Service Administration. UCFS will receive $719,767, and Generations $727,752 for construction or expansion, alterations or renovations and capital improvements.

Pamela Kinder, vice president of business development for UCFS, said the funding will cover much of the cost for a nearly $1 million project to create a 2,500-square-foot comprehensive care center at the open storefront in the Meadows Plaza building that houses People’s Bank and the Quest testing center. The 47,000-square-foot Edward and Mary Lord Family Health Center belonging to UCFS is in the neighboring building in the plaza.

Kinder said the new center will offer integrated, preventive care and treatment to existing and new clients, with or without private insurance. The new site also will house public health services, such as testing and vaccination clinics.

The center will serve “those who don’t have a primary medical home and those who have chronic health care conditions and have difficulty adhering to treatment recommendations,” Kinder said.

To promote patients’ comfort, the center will be set up so that doctors and behavioral health clinicians will come to the room where the patient is waiting.

“This is going to be more of an intimate setting. A lot of people are hesitant to enter a building of this size,” she said, referring to the Edward and Mary Lord Family Health Center.

UCFS will seek bids for the construction this fall and hopes to start construction by early 2022 and open by June, depending on availability of construction materials and supplies.

“Generations Family Health and United Community and Family Services stepped up big time during COVID, performing an extraordinary amount of work under increasingly difficult circumstances,” Courtney said in a news release announcing the grant. “This federal funding is going to help them expand and improve baseline services going forward, which is a win for our communities, and it’s going to help make sure we’re even better prepared to respond to public health emergencies in the future.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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