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Whittier Street Health Center, national leader in quality of care

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Whittier Street Health Center recorded the lowest percentage of low-birth weight babies born in the state and is in the top 75 among community health centers in the country in that category according to a recent report.

Kaiser Health News, using 2010 data from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (the most recent year for which data was available), recently issued the report measuring quality of care at the nearly 1,200 community health centers in the country, rating them on diabetes control, timely prenatal care, hypertension control, low birth weight, childhood immunizations and cervical cancer screenings.

Whittier Street greatly exceeded national averages in five out of six categories, and the 2.27 percent of low birth-weight newborns is the lowest percentage in the state. Nationally, 8.3 percent of all newborns weigh less than 5.5 pounds.

Among the 36 community health centers in Massachusetts, Whittier Street is also in the top three at fighting hypertension and top 10 for prenatal care.

“These reports show us where we are doing well and where we need to do better,” said Whittier Street CEO Frederica Williams. “While we are exceeding national averages in most of these categories, we are still striving to increase screenings, immunizations and control diabetes in our communities. Diabetes especially is a national problem and we will continue to strive to get it under control by educating the at-risk populations we serve.”

The federal government has recently begun measuring the quality of care at community health centers (CHCs) to determine whether patients are receiving appropriate care. CHCs provide care to more than 20 million people nationally, most of whom are poor and many who are uninsured.

A comparison of how Whittier Street Health Center measured against the national average of healthcare provided to the U.S. population by community health centers in six categories:

• Diabetes Control: WSHC 78.6 percent to U.S. 87.6 percent

• Timely Prenatal Care: WSHC 86.6 percent to 68.3 percent

• Hypertension Control: WSHC 84.6 percent to 50.1 percent

• Low Birth Weight*:  WSHC 2.2 percent to 8.3 percent

• Childhood Immunization: WSHC 79.4 percent to 67 percent

• Cervical Cancer Screening: 77.3 percent to 75.1 percent.

*Low birth weight is the only measure for which a lower number is better.