BANGOR – Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Maine, has been awarded three grants from the United Way of Eastern Maine (UWEM) for COVID-19 related reasons. A $2,500 amount has been awarded for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at PCHC practices and $7,500 for phone cards/phone plans for low-income individuals to take advantage of telehealth services through Hope House in Bangor and Seaport Community Health Center in Belfast; and grocery gift cards for low-income individuals through Seaport Community Health Center in Belfast. The $10,000 in total grants comes from the United Way of Eastern Maine COVID-19 Response Fund.
“PCHC measures success one person at a time,” said Lori Dwyer, president and CEO of PCHC. “Every employee and patient we help protect from contracting the virus by utilizing proper protective equipment and screening procedures is a success. By ensuring this equipment is available in addition to comprehensive screening and telemedicine, we are working together to help protect patients, employees, friends, family, and neighbors. We can’t thank the United Way of Eastern Maine enough for its support in these community–wide efforts.”
With the CDC recommending use of face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the demand for masks and all PPE continues to grow. The grant for PPE equipment will be used to purchase and provide masks for PCHC staff and patients who do not have proper face masks of their own.
“Ensuring an adequate supply of PPE early on was vital,” said Heather Blackwell, director of grants and development at PCHC. “As demand and needs changed dramatically, PCHC had to work quickly to ensure a stable supply of critical personal protective equipment like masks. As we continue to see more confirmed cases and a continued need for PPE, the funding from this grant is helping to protect our community and our entire region.”
As telehealth has become a viable alternative to in-person visits, the accessibility of phone service is essential to ensuring everyone remains healthy.
“We are seeing proof every day that telehealth is working,” said Blackwell. “But it really only works when phone service is accessible. Much of the $7,500 in grant funding for Hope House and Seaport Community Health Center ensures that every individual has the ability to access telehealth services while remaining safely socially distanced.”
UWEM’s COVID-19 Response Fund was set up specifically to support the basic needs of people and families in Eastern Maine affected by COVID-19. Organizations that serve populations in need every day are finding themselves under-resourced to serve a growing demand. UWEM is working to raise money to support grants like those awarded to PCHC, and to recruit volunteers to respond to the public health crisis.
“PCHC’s proposed use of these funds fits perfectly into our grant mission of keeping a strong network of engaged providers for the health of our community services,” said Shirar Patterson, president and CEO of United Way of Eastern Maine. “The men and women serving on the front lines deserve our thanks and gratitude, and they also deserve the courtesy of everyone working together to keep each other healthy and safe. By doing so, we are protecting our friends and neighbors, our front line workers, and our communities.”
The grant funds are being made immediately, giving PCHC fast resources to ensure no break in supplies.
PCHC’s clinics and walk-in care are open, and providers are encouraging patients to not let their own personal care be minimized. For information on hours, availability, and steps being taken to ensure safety at PCHC’s facilities, visit pchc.com.