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New Caring Health Center named in honor of Congressman Richard Neal

Date: 9/25/2014

SPRINGFIELD – The new Caring Health Center facility on Main Street in the South End now bears the name of Congressman Richard E. Neal in recognition of his support of the construction of the new health center.

Neal took the opportunity to speak about the status of health care in the nation and the importance of such programs as Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In a ceremony on Sept. 22, the center’s Executive Director Tania Barber noted the congressman had been essential in making sure federal dollars were in place for the renovation of the former Hampden Furniture Showcase building into a state of the art health facility.

Mayor Domenic Sarno said Neal “worked ferociously” on the project.

Barber admitted, “It didn’t seem this day would ever happen,” noting the complex project had been interrupted by damage caused by the June 1, 2011 tornado.

The effort to build the new center began in 2007. The final cost was $20.5 million.

She also credited Sarno and his staff as being “a major force in making this happen.”

The Caring Health Center currently has 14,000 patients who make 59,000 annual visits, Barber said. She added the goal is to double the number of patients over the next few years. The center has four locations and Barber said it offers primary care, dental services and women’s health.

The new South End location also features a wellness room, which is available at no cost to patients, staff and the public, based on a reservation. It will include also a pharmacy, which is scheduled to open in November.

Neal said, “The Caring Health Center is the face of it’s [healthcare] is being delivered.”

Neal spoke about the “factual free for all” that has characterized the conversation concerning healthcare. He noted that about half of the bankruptcies that occur are because of the healthcare costs.

He added that life expectancy has changed dramatically. In 1900 the average lifespan for an American man was 46, and for a woman it was 48. Today men are living to 78, while women to 80. Neal added if a person reaches 65, its statistically likely that person would live into his or her eighties.

Neal lauded the Massachusetts mandate for health insurance, which has resulted in almost all Bay State residents having coverage. He added the ACA will “continue to evolve if we could all lower our voices.”

He said the states that have implemented the ACA have been pleased with it and the states that resist it are “devoid of the notion of fact.”