HOLYOKE — Holyoke Health Center (HHC), located at 230 Maple St. in Holyoke, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with an outdoor and socially distanced event.
Opening as a component of the federally supported Model Cities Program, HHC outgrew its small building in the Flats neighborhood of Holyoke and developed a successful facility across from City Hall, in the single largest downtown development to occur in Holyoke. The current HHC facility is more than 100,000 square feet, large enough to meet the needs of more than 20,000 patients.
The complex of four integrated buildings includes a large, innovative community pharmacy staffed by 14 pharmacists; the area’s largest dental-services program, which includes adult, pediatric, and orthodontic services; the Center for Recovery & Support, which treats hundreds of patients with substance-use disorders; a growing eye-care program; and its flagship comprehensive medical program serving children, adolescents, adults, and elderly patients. To meet the needs of patients in surrounding communities, HHC built additional locations in Chicopee to provide medical, dental, and pharmacy services, and in Westfield to provide additional dental services.
Throughout the past 50 years, HHC has responded to health issues connected to low- income status, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic. HHC took the lead in responding to the epidemic in the community by conducting research, education, screening, and ultimately developing a highly successful medical team to treat the illness. During the 1980s, HIV/AIDS treatment was not widely available, and HHC was one of the only healthcare providers in the area delivering HIV/AIDS care and providing treatment.
Now, with the COVID-19 global pandemic, HHC is again taking the local lead in education, prevention, and treatment, supporting contact tracing, providing drive-thru testing, and quickly establishing clinical approaches to contain and treat the virus, while it is spreading and rearranging the way the community lives and works.
HHC has been at the forefront of creating a teaching facility to train the healthcare providers of tomorrow. Residency programs in adult dentistry, pediatric dentistry, pharmacy, and a new family nurse practitioner program are currently bringing 16 professionals from across the country to HHC each year. Many residents participating in these programs go on to join the permanent staff of HHC, ensuring that the services and programs developed over the past 50 years will continue to thrive and evolve.