As part of a multi-year collaboration between Advocates for Community Health (ACH) and UnitedHealthcare, Lowell Community Health Center (Lowell CHC) is one of five community health centers receiving $500,000 each to address complex problems affecting the overall wellness of the underserved communities where they provide care. We recently had a chance to talk to Lowell CHC CEO Susan West Levine to learn more about her health center and winning proposal.
Why is Lowell CHC’s work in the community you serve so important?
Lowell CHC plays an integral role in Greater Lowell as the largest primary care provider in the area. Serving more than 34,000 patients, a significant proportion of whom identify as historically racially and ethnically minoritized groups (75%) and those best served in a language other than English (50%). Lowell CHC provides a broad range of medical and social services support for individuals who might otherwise face barriers to find quality care. The fact that 87% of those served are low-income underscores the health center’s commitment to its mission of providing quality, culturally competent healthcare regardless of financial status.
Lowell CHC addresses social needs of patients through well-established partnerships with health and human service agencies and community-based organizations to fulfill 17,000+ requests for food and housing assistance. With 29% of patients under 18, initiatives like Teen BLOCK invest in future generations’ health. This comprehensive model fosters a just and healthy community. Their efforts not only provide immediate health benefits but also contribute to the long-term resilience and vitality of the Greater Lowell community.
Please briefly describe your winning proposal. How will the Lowell CHC Health Justice Learning Institute bridge the health care gap in your community?
The Lowell CHC Health Justice Learning Institute presents a groundbreaking, culturally conscious solution that will sustainably address critical workforce gaps in healthcare. This institute is envisioned as an epicenter of culturally proficient learning, dedicated to training a spectrum of healthcare professionals through an anti-racist, health justice lens. Its foundation is our Family Medicine Residency Program, debuting in 2026 as Massachusetts’ second such initiative in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), leveraging Lowell CHC’s deep expertise in culturally proficient care. By adopting an entire care team approach that is cross-disciplinary, the Institute distinguishes itself, aiming to transform the education and preparation of healthcare professionals within our region and beyond.
The Institute’s innovative curriculum goes beyond traditional medical training, fostering a collaborative co-learning environment for all types of health professionals—including physicians, nurse practitioners, community health workers, medical interpreters, and more. Central to the program is the emphasis on health equity, community involvement, and a profound understanding of how racism, privilege, and social determinants affect health. This comprehensive approach is geared towards mitigating healthcare workforce shortages, enhancing patient access, and improving health outcomes, particularly for low-income and historically marginalized groups. Our strategy involves leveraging Lowell CHC’s integrated care model and the profound, lived experiences of our staff, many of whom are residents of Lowell. The overarching aim is to immerse health justice in team-based care, create training models for healthcare delivery and begin to reverse adverse health trends that disproportionately affect marginalized and low-income communities in Greater Lowell and beyond.
Approximately how many healthcare professionals will the Lowell CHC Health Justice Learning Institute impact in its first year? How will your success be measured?
In its first program year, which will be 2026, the Health Justice Learning Institute will impact more than 300 healthcare professionals in its training programs, encompassing community health workers, nurse practitioners, medical interpreters, and other health professionals. These will also include medical assistants, dental assistants, among others. Success will be gauged through a multifaceted approach, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative measures to ensure comprehensive assessment and continual improvement. Key performance indicators have been established for the first three years to monitor the institute’s effectiveness and progress. These include quarterly patient satisfaction scores, the number of unique patients served, the completion rate of participants in the health justice program, and the diversity and volume of applicants to the institute, encompassing Residents, RNs, NPs, and MAs, as well as student satisfaction scores. Additionally, the institute will track the number of preceptorships and internships offered. These outcomes will be meticulously measured in collaboration with our academic partner, Tufts University School of Medicine, using tools like EPIC for patient data and HRIS for student and resident demographics. Beyond numerical data, patient experience surveys conducted by an independent entity will provide valuable insights, closely reviewed by Lowell CHC management and a board Quality Committee. This robust evaluation framework, complemented by agile management systems and feedback mechanisms, will not only assess the immediate impact of the Institute but also guide its evolution, ensuring it meets both current needs and future healthcare challenges.
You can learn more about Lowell Community Health Center and its impactful work at https://www.lchealth.org/.