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Mattapan Community Health Center Rocks the Boat for healthy families

1/24/2012, 7:34 p.m.

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Carine Mathieu and daughter Paris.

When Carine Mathieu delivered her three children over the course of some 17 years, they were all healthy babies — thanks in part to the prenatal, post-partum and pediatric care she and her family received from the Mattapan Community Health Center (MCHC).

Mathieu, a registered nurse and resident of Mattapan, says, “When I come to the health center, I feel at home because they provide comprehensive care for the health needs of my family and me. And they go beyond health care to offer support with social services. When I had my son Demetrio they connected me to a social worker who helped me at home until Demetrio was 3 months old.” Today Demetrio is 15 years old, having received ongoing pediatric care along with his 17-year-old sister, Bianca, at MCHC. Now Mathieu’s youngest child, 1-year-old Paris, is receiving care similar to her siblings, including vaccinations and regular checkups.

Disparities in maternal and child health
Unfortunately, many people still lack access to quality prenatal care that is so critical to raising a healthy family and building a stronger community. Disparities in prenatal care and birth weight of babies are reflected in the Mattapan Community Health Center’s 2011 Community Health Report Card for Mattapan and Hyde Park.

In this latest report card, released in the fall of 2011, there is a slight decline in the number of women who received prenatal care in the first trimester, adequate prenatal care and an increase in lowbirth weight babies in Mattapan and Hyde Park. In July 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that the black infant mortality rate dropped by 50 percent in the state. According to 2011 Health of Boston data, the infant mortality rate for Mattapan and Hyde Park were below the overall Boston rate. In addition, elevated blood lead levels in children in Mattapan and Hyde Park continue to drop.

Dr. Azzie Young, the president and CEO of the Mattapan Community Health Center, says “Building a healthy community begins with maternal and child health. Our center strives to address the needs of families in Mattapan and Hyde Park where there are still challenges related to improving prenatal care and decreasing the percentage of low birthweight babies. We have made progress in these areas but they require monitoring.”

Addressing the need with dedicated staff and a new facility at 40
In the summer of 2012, MCHC will open its new facility on Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan Square. As the health center celebrates its 40th anniversary, the new facility will significantly increase MCHC’s capacity to serve the needs of the communities of Mattapan, Hyde Park and surrounding communities. Now under construction, the new spaces in the nearly 50,000 square foot building will allow MCHC to double the number of patients it serves and triple patient visits. In 2010, Mattapan Community Health Center served more than 7,300 people through 30,000 visits.

For the first time the center will provide behavioral health and mammography services onsite. An expanded laboratory will allow MCHC to increase the number of tests conducted more quickly. In addition, MCHC will use the new spaces to expand pediatric, adolescent, women’s health and other adult programs.

Funding for the 34 million dollar “green” MCHC facility has come from three sources: government, including ARRA funds (already awarded), loans and philanthropy. The health center was successful in meeting a Kresge Challenge to secure a $500,000 grant.

How you can help
To support MCHC’s efforts to build a healthier community, participate in the 16th annual Rock the Boat fundraiser, which helps to fund MCHC’s work. This year it takes place on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

You can also buy a brick and leave a healthy legacy. More than 400 bricks are available to complete the Community Wall of Donors. Buy a brick today to ensure that your support is visible when this state-of-the-art health center opens. Each brick can have three lines of text and up to 18 characters per line and cost $200 and $500 depending on their placement in the wall.

For details, e-mail screenm@matchc.org, call 617-898-9049, or go to the website: www.mattapanchc.org. We look forward to your continued support of Mattapan Community Health Center as it begins the 5th decade proudly providing quality health care in Boston.