Community health, cost of violence addressed at Codman Square Health Center meeting

Attorney General Maura Healey spoke at the Codman Square Health Center's annual meeting on Wednesday. Photo courtesy CSHC/Scotland Huber

Gun violence cast a pall over the Codman Square Health Center community yesterday, as it gathered for the center’s annual meeting. Attorney General Maura Healey and state Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders spoke before those gathered in the Great Hall.

The health center serves as a core community pillar, they said.

“Many organizations are part of the community, but Codman Square Health Center really defines community,” Healey said, “and it has for all of these years in its ability to evolve and adapt and meet changing needs. It’s inspiring for someone like me.”

Healey and Sudders referred to gun violence, particularly homicides, as a “public health crisis” that disproportionately haunts communities of color and lower incomes. Two Dorchester homicides over the past week — 17-year-old Raekwon Brown and 31-year-old Marcus Hall — were the latest tragedies to strike the community.

“Orlando is on our mind,” Healey said, referring to the recent mass shooting at the LGBTQ-friendly Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in which 49 people were killed and another 53 wounded. “This terrible spate of mass shooting that we’ve seen over the years in our country is truly horrifying and devastating, but I’m mindful of the violence and the gun violence that occurs day-to-day in our neighborhoods, in our cities, and our communities,” Healey said.

The attorney general’s office has been involved in community engagement and outreach efforts, which Healey said give the public direct access to her office to raise concerns or seek assistance.

Sudders, who oversees the $19.4 billion allocated to health and human services through the state, said she is aiming to repair some notable shortfalls in state resources.

“We don’t really have a mental health system in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Sudders said. “We have component parts.”

She said she hopes to connect the many admirable components in the administration and connect them into a more functional support network. “I want us to have a mental health system that we can be proud of,” Sudders said, “that opens doors for people to get the treatment and support that they need and the support that their community needs.”

Circling to the health center’s impact, Sandra Cotterell, CEO of the Codman Square Health Center, walked attendees through the center’s 2015.

Of the 22,971 patients treated in 115,739 visits, 59 percent were female and 41 percent male, according to the health center. About 93 percent of those patients were at 200 percent or below the poverty line.

The health center received a 139 percent increase in federal grants, including at 3.5-year grant of $1.83 million for the Children’s Mental Health Initiative from the Smith Family Foundation. More than $250,000 was raised at the 18th annual Men of Boston Cook for Women’s Health event.

For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015, the center’s revenue hit $31,188,666, with operating expenses at $30,950,969.

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