$6.33 million in aid to Finger Lakes Community Health

John Christensen
The Chronicle Express

PENN YAN – Finger Lakes Community Health is to receive over $6 million in federal aid to help combat the Coronavirus and adapt their treatment centers to the pandemic.

Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced $396,801,375 in emergency federal funding for 63 community health centers (CHCs) across New York State. These funds, provided in the American Rescue Plan, will give New York’s CHCs the support needed to expand COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and treatment for underserved populations. 

In Yates County, $6,332,875 in aid will be coming to Finger Lakes Community Health in Penn Yan. Distribution of funding will begin in April. Specifically, this funding will:

• Deliver needed preventive and primary health care services to those at higher risk for COVID-19 

• Expand CHC operational capacity during the pandemic and beyond, including modifying and improving physical infrastructure and adding mobile units.

CHCs are on the frontline of health care in the United States, particularly in rural and underserved areas, and provide a critical health care safety net during times of crisis. Throughout the pandemic, these health centers have provided their communities with testing, tracing, vaccine preparedness, and other health services. 

Mary Zelazny, CEO of FLCH, says they will have a two-year window to expend the funds to benefit their more than 28,000 patients, served at eight locations. The money will pay for specialized equipment, including upgraded HVAC systems to filter and isolate the air in treatment rooms, and pay for staff overtime that has been paid for vaccination events. As one of the direct recipients of federally supplied vaccines, FLCH has already vaccinated over 4,000 patients.

Mary Zelazny, CEO of Finger Lakes Community Health

“New York’s Community Health Centers are a cornerstone of the state’s healthcare system and have been our frontline armor in the battle against COVID-19, especially in underserved and disadvantaged communities where COVID hit the hardest,” said Schumer. “This critical federal investment, that I fought to secure in the American Rescue Plan, will help Community Health Centers maintain their vital operations, providing health care to those at high risk of contracting COVID-19, and continuing to administer vaccines to as many New Yorkers as possible.”

“In the midst of this global pandemic, people across New York are turning to Community Health Centers for affordable primary and preventative health care,” said Gillibrand. “Due to strained financial resources, hundreds of these vital centers have been faced with closure when health care services are needed more than ever. I am proud to have fought and helped secured this funding in the American Rescue Plan, and I will continue fighting to provide CHCs with the critical resources they need to thrive."

Health centers serve one in five people living in rural communities, and one in 11 people nationwide. More than 91% of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and nearly 63% are racial or ethnic minorities.

Finger Lakes Community Health was founded in 1989. The original mission at FLCH was to serve the region’s agricultural workers. In 2009 it became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and expanded their services to include everyone in the Finger Lakes region. Today, patients of all incomes, ethnicities, and walks of life come to their eight health center locations. As an FQHC, Finger Lakes Community Health offers discounts for services, regardless of a patient’s insurance status, based on income and household size.

Finger Lakes Community Health operates eight health centers in the Finger Lakes.