Milford Kennedy Community Health
Community News | 4/30/2024

Expansion of Community Health Center Marks Step Forward in MCPHS Partnership

By Maaha Rafique

The new building at the Milford Kennedy Community Health, which opened in December of 2023, includes a new optometry facility. MCPHS Doctor of Optometry students will have the opportunity to participate in clinical rotations at the site.

Milford Kennedy Community Health
The new building at the Milford Kennedy Community Health, which opened in December of 2023, includes a new optometry facility. MCPHS Doctor of Optometry students will have the opportunity to participate in clinical rotations at the site.

MCPHS teams up with Kennedy Community Health to expand vision care access in the Milford community.

Doctor of Optometry (OD) students and faculty from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) are serving the community at the newly expanded Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Kennedy Community Health) in Milford. This 15,000-square-foot facility, unveiled last December, boasts four new optometry examination lanes, opening up access to vision care for local residents like never before.

Students from the OD program on the Worcester campus perform examinations and treat patients with eye conditions. Greg Waldorf, OD, MPH, FAAO, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs in the School of Optometry, said rotations at Kennedy Community Health sites allow students to care for patients they might not have encountered previously.

"In the health centers, we see many patients who are immigrants and don't speak English and many patients who have never had an eye exam. It's a new experience for students to educate them about eye health," he said.

MCPHS has a longstanding relationship with Kennedy Community Health, which was founded in Worcester and also has a location in Framingham. Since 1972, the Health Center has provided medical, dental and vision care, urgent care, behavioral health and other health care and social support services in these communities.

In 2014, the Health Center partnered with MCPHS, allowing University students to complete clinical rotations at all Kennedy Community Health sites. In addition to those enrolled in the OD program, students studying to be pharmacists, physician assistants, dental hygienists, and nurse practitioners have all participated. Students see about 3,000 patients annually at the Worcester clinic and about 2,000 at the Framingham site.

When students examine patients at the Kennedy Community Health sites, they have access to the patient's complete medical records, such as dates of previous exams, recommendations by a primary care provider, and underlying health conditions. Waldorf said this marks the first-time students have access to the complete medical records of patients they are examining, which allows them to incorporate comprehensive medical data into treatment. The system also allows them to write up medication orders and make referrals with other healthcare providers at Kennedy Community Health.

"So, they get the full picture. We always tell students that the patient is more than a set of eyes," Waldorf said.

Waldorf said that Kennedy Community Health patients who require specialized eye care are informed about corresponding services available at the MCPHS Eye and Vision Center. For instance, accessing laser treatment for glaucoma at the Eye and Vision Center can alleviate the need for patients to travel to Boston for such services.

Both clinics prioritize affordability and accessibility to ensure financial constraints do not hinder individuals from seeking essential care. At the Eye and Vision Center, patients can pay on a sliding scale. Kennedy Community Health also provides a sliding fee scale, but provides care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Waldorf said he hopes the partnership between MCPHS and Kennedy Community Health will exist for years.

"From our perspective, it's an opportunity for our students to see more patients, to see a larger variety of patients, experience a different sort of culture in each site, and work with a medical team in a comprehensive approach to providing care," he said.

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