Quality of care still defines Harvard Street Health Center, where a new deal has set in to face up to challenges

One of the best-kept secrets in Boston these days is the quality of health care you can receive on Blue Hill Avenue. At the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, we provide a wide range of medical and related social services to the residents of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and neighboring communities and we have done so for over forty years.

From dental, to mental health, to ob/gyn and family medicine, Harvard Street stands ready to serve with the philosophy that quality health care should be made available, accessible, and acceptable to all people, and rendered in a dignified manner as a right rather than a privilege.

After seven months as president and CEO of Harvard Street, I am well aware that we are at a critical point in changing the perception of how this center runs. Many community residents had, and have, concerns regarding past financial challenges at Harvard Street.

However, from the first day I walked in here, no one has ever been concerned with the quality of our care or the quality of our caregivers. That reputation for service to our patients has sustained us through our challenges. Our patients and our physicians, nurses, and associates deserve a center that operates up to the standards they have set for themselves in their professional lives.

We strive to be much more than just a doctor’s office. Harvard Street is on the frontlines of preventive medicine with free health education classes and screenings. We also provide advanced treatment methods to fight chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and mental health disorders.

While our physicians, nurses, and associates continue to deliver some of the best care in the area, we have also made great strides to correct some of the administrative problems that once defined us.
In these first seven months, I have dedicated much time to reviewing the previous practices of Harvard Street. We recently conducted our first patient satisfaction survey. In the coming weeks, we will also complete a three-year strategic plan. Furthermore, I am very excited to announce that we have scheduled our first federal audit by the US Department of Health & Human Services. That will provide us with a top to bottom analysis of Harvard Street’s operations, financial management and clinical processes.

And we’re expanding. More than $1.1 million in grant funding has come through the door since my arrival. This influx of resources will allow us to create new programs like the ophthalmology services that will be coming online in the next few months. We are also excited about engaging in new partnerships with area non-profits in an effort to complement the great work already being done by community leaders like Darnell Williams at Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. We additionally continue to work with Andy Davis, president and CEO of Carney Hospital, to grow our affiliation with his hospital and to work with the Carney specialists on a daily basis.

We are also very much planning for the future. We are bringing on board a new medical director with a strong track record of success. Our new electronic health record system will allow us to track data and make strategic adjustments. Furthermore, we are in the midst of expanding our clinical staff to include additional doctors and nurse practitioners to allow for more capacity and the ability to serve additional patients.

I could not be more excited about the direction Harvard Street is heading in. Our board of directors continues to provide the guidance and advice I need to bring Harvard Street’s overall reputation in the community back to where it once was. My colleagues and I will continue to work hard every day to ensure that our patients, our neighbors, receive the treatment and respect they deserve.

Charley Murphy is president and CEO of the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center.