ROCKLAND, Maine — Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently announced funding awards to organizations around the country seeking to develop community health centers. Penquis, the community action agency serving Knox, Penobscot, and Piscataquis counties, is the recipient of one of only four awards in New England.
The Health Resources and Services Administration selected Penquis to receive $80,000 in grant funding to assist in the planning and development of a mainland Knox County Health Center. The purpose of the health center will be to provide primary, preventive and other health care services to underserved communities in Knox County.
The planning grant will further the efforts of the Knox County Health Access Coalition, comprising more than 50 community members representing medical, dental, behavioral health and social services providers; consumers; state and local government; education; business; faith-based organizations; and others. The coalition identified health care access as a critical need for mainland Knox County.
Led by Penquis, the Knox County Health Access Coalition will hold planning meetings and public discussions to engage residents in the planning process; consider data from recent community needs assessments; select a service delivery model appropriate to community needs, capacity and resources; determine site location, facility and staffing needs; create bylaws and a governing board; develop an operations plan and seek funding to establish and operate a health center. By the end of the 12-month process, the coalition will be prepared to submit a grant application for funding that will support the creation of a rural health center on the mainland in Knox County.