Nearly 200 people packed the Kernwood Country Club in Salem last Thursday, May 14th to support Lynn Community Health Center’s “Women for Lynn Community Health Center Recognition Breakfast,” an annual event recognizing those who have contributed to the health and well–being of women and girls. In response to the growing heroin epidemic in the City, proceeds from the event will be designated to expanding the health center’s program to treat substance use disorders.
Honoree and Keynote Speaker Martha Coakley, former Massachusetts Attorney General and 2014 Democratic candidate for Governor, recognized the health center as part of the solution to this tragic epidemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 in Massachusetts last year alone.
“We absolutely need to rethink how we are addressing addiction,” she said. “We have framed it as a criminal justice problem…but it needs to be reframed as a medical and prevention issue. Why has it ended up as a criminal justice issue? Because we have not diagnosed and addressed it early enough.”
She described LCHC as a “laboratory of healthcare innovation”, well equipped to be part of the solution through its practice of integrated healthcare, willingness to pilot innovative programs, and commitment to prevention, especially through its 12 School-Based Health Centers.
UMass Amherst student Harena Gebreyesus provided an example of the positive role that school-based health care can have on young people. Her family arrived in 2009 as refugees from Ethiopia. Harena’s relationship with Nurse Practitioner Linda Galligani was a beacon for her during her middle and high school years, and inspired her to work hard and dream of her future. She proudly told the audience that she just completed her first year as a pre-med student.
The health center also recognized Adrienne Kelliher for her many years of volunteer service. Kelliher’s first job out of college was as an art teacher in the Lynn Public Schools. “It is wonderful that she is still giving back to this community,” said Marilyn Smith, Event Host Committee member.
Lynn Community Health Center, located in downtown Lynn, provides comprehensive health care services for 39,000 patients each year. For more information visit www.lchcnet.org.