Assessment of Health IT and Data Exchange in Safety Net Providers: Final Report Appendix. Health Center Profiles


The NORC team met with staff from the following five BHN’s health centers: Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, South Boston Community Health Center, Dorchester House Multi-Service Center and Codman Square Health Center.  In addition to meeting with health center staff the NORC team met with a staff member from a joint enterprise between Codman Square and Dorchester House known as DotWell.

Many of BHN federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) have historic roots in their communities, some dating back to over a century. As a result there is diversity in services and size of the health centers due to the evolving needs of the communities they serve. The table below illustrates the relative sizes of these organizations.

Community Health Center Number of Employees Total FTE Physician FTE
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center 770 628 42.63
Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program 362 248 15
Dorchester House Multi-Service Center 205 195.4 9.9
Codman Square Health Center 180 166.44 13.42
South Boston Community Health Center 174 141.2 14.5

The five health centers visited span over five of Boston’s distinct neighborhoods. As a result these centers are unique to their surroundings. The following map shows the main heath center campus for each of the centers that were represented in our meetings.

Image 1 shows the five health centers visited span over five of Boston’s distinct neighborhoods. As a result these centers are unique to their surroundings. The following map shows the main heath center campus for each of the centers that were represented in our meetings.


Five health center of Boston's Distinct Neighborhoods

South Boston Community Health Center Profile. South Boston Community Health Center (SBCHC) originated in 1972 with the mission of providing care to their entire South Boston community. Today, South Boston provides nearly 60,000 visits a year to almost half of the neighborhoods residents and is the primary source of health services in the community. The neighborhood demographics of South Boston have shifted over time. While still a predominately white Irish Catholic population, there has been an increased number of Hispanic and African American residents. In addition, South Boston has a large population of Albanians accounting for 15 percent of the community’s population. SBCHC provides a full suite of medical services including a cancer survivor clinic, behavioral health services, full laboratory and radiological services as well as community services including arts programs for youth and financial counseling.

  East Boston Neighborhood Community Health Center Profile. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) was established in the 1960’s to address the need for care in a geographically disparate region of Boston. Today, EBNHC has grown to care for more than 300,000 patient visits per year -more than any other ambulatory care center in New England, delivers 1,000 babies annually and provides care to the vast majority of East Boston’s children. Other medical services that EBNHC provides include a 24 hour emergency room and an on-site pharmacy.  Originally, East Boston served a primarily Italian-American population. Since its inception, various immigrant populations have passed through the area and today the neighborhood is multicultural. Although the community is multicultural the majority of EBNHC’s patient population is Hispanic.

Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program Profile. In 1984 The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust collaborated in developing a pilot that would eventually be called “Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP)." BHCHP serves more than 11,000 patients with more than 72,000 outpatient medical, dental and mental health visits across its 80 sites throughout Boston. These sites include two hospital locations, BMC and Massachusetts General, and a 104 bed medical respite center for patients that do not meet the threshold of being admitted to the hospital but need an environment conducive to recovery.

BHCHP provides a comprehensive set of services to its population, including an outreach van, motel services, a behavioral health department, a pharmacy, 24 hour medical respite care for homeless adults as well as a full range of primary care and dental services. The patient cohort is diverse and reflects the demographics of the city’s homeless population. Forty-two percent (42%) are white non-Hispanic, while Hispanic and African American patients combined make up roughly 50% of patients seen.  

Codman Square Health Center Profile. Codman Square Health Center (CSHC) was founded in 1979 with the broad mission to improve the quality of life in the Codman Square community, a neighborhood within Dorchester. CSHC records more than 90,000 patient visits annually and provides primary medical care as well as non-medical services such as continuing education, fitness, youth programs and financial services.  Eighty-five percent (85%) of Codman Square’s patient population are African Americans, with a far smaller Haitian and Hispanic population. Many of Codman Square’s initiatives are held in collaboration with Dorchester House Multi-Services Center. A number of these shared initiatives are managed through DotWell, a joint venture between the two centers.

Dorchester House Multi-Services Center Profile. Dorchester House Multi-Services Center (DHMSC) has provided its community with services for over a century. Originally a settlement house by the name of “Gordon House,” in 1909 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts incorporated the institution giving it the name “Dorchester House.” Its original mission sought to provide library and educational services as well as to conduct charitable acts and social meetings. In the mid 70’s a health center was built on the grounds and given its current name of “ Dorchester House Multi-Services Center.”

DHMSC provides approximately 70,000 patient visits a year. More than 60% of DHMSC patients are African American and Asian. The center offers a wide array of medical and non-medical services in addition to its in-house diagnostic services, including radiology and full-service laboratory, as well as a host of community services programs. As outlined before, Dorchester House and Codman Square collaborate on numerous projects, including a shared venture, DotWell. 

DotWell Profile. DotWell is a joint venture between Codman Square and Dorchester House that serves both centers with IT support, quality improvement, public advocacy and financial management. The partnership originated in 1998 and was designed to be a cost efficient way to share management and other services. These services include IT support, data storage and management of shared software applications.  DotWell utilizes shared resources from CSHC and DHMSC and employs 50 full time staff. DotWell provides shared IT services between the two organizations as well as a single place to manage and execute joint public health and community programs such as a health van, HIV outreach, diabetes services and Social Capital Inc. a Dorchester community engagement service.

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