Hilltown Voices: Hilltown Community Health Center lands award for LGBTQ inclusiveness

  • Parade-goers enter the Three County Fairgrounds at the end of the Northampton Pride march route on Saturday, May 4, 2019. FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

For the Gazette
Published: 9/13/2019 10:22:36 AM
Modified: 9/13/2019 10:22:24 AM

The Hilltown Community Health Center (HCHC) has been awarded a “Top Performer” designation by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation in its 12th annual Health Care Equity Index.

“We are very proud to have done so well our very first year participating,” said Health Center CEO Eliza Lake.

Of the 15 entities that participated statewide in 2019 and received a score above 80, only five were community health centers, and HCHC is the only community health center to do so in western Massachusetts, landing a score of 90 out of 100.

“HCHC has a long history of serving everyone in need, but this designation shows that we are a leader in our efforts to be a welcoming and inclusive place for patients receiving health care, and for employment of LGBTQ staff,” Lake said.

 The Health Care Equity Index scores health care facilities on policies and practices that promote the equitable treatment and inclusion of LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees.

​HRC President Alphonso David said that health care facilities that participate in HRC’s Healthcare Equity Index are making it clear that they stand on the side of fairness and are committed to providing inclusive care to their LGBTQ patients.

“Going beyond inclusive non-discrimination policies, these health care facilities are adopting best practices in the areas of LGBTQ patient care and support, employee policies and benefits, and LGBTQ patient and community engagement,” David said.

 The Hilltown Health Center earned its “Top Performer” designation for providing employee benefits for same-sex partners, data capture of patient sexual orientation and gender identity, providing training on LGBTQ care for staff, and engagement with the community on LGBTQ issues. 

In May, the Health Center participated in its first Northampton Pride Parade, and last fall its board endorsed a “yes” vote on Question 3, advocating for the preservation of transgender rights. 

 “There is always more work to be done, but we are committed to our mission of creating access to high-quality, integrated health care and promoting well-being for individuals, families and our communities,” Lake said. “Being recognized by the HEI Index for serving the LGBTQ community is part of that mission.”

 Williamsburg Market group reveals results

WILLIAMSBURG — After spending four months trying to ascertain the viability of a food co-op in Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Market Steering Committee is ready to report its findings on the project.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the group will hold an informational public meeting at 7 p.m. at the Anne T. Dunphy School.

“We have spent the summer looking at the viability of a community purchase for the market,” Williamsburg Market Steering Committee member Susan McAllister said. “We met once a week, and it has been a good process.”

Through grant funding and a successful Go Fund Me campaign, the group was able to hire professional assistance to analyze the viability of opening a food co-op in Williamsburg, and what that might look like, and to investigate the structural integrity of the Williamsburg Market building and utilities.

“To get input from the community, we also sent out 5,000 surveys, and we got 1,100 back, which is a pretty good response,” McAllister said.

Jean and Angie Duquette, the current owners of the business who are selling it, have been working closely with the Williamsburg Market Committee in the hopes that a sustainable grocery store will remain in town. The couple has turned down other potential buyers who intended to operate different, non-grocery related businesses at the site. 

McAlister said that once the results of the reports are provided at the meeting, the community can then decide if it wants to move forward to raise funds to purchase the market.

“We want to get the word out, and we are hoping that people are invested enough to come to the meeting,” McAllister said.

 New COA director

CUMMINGTON — The Cummington Council on Aging (COA) has welcomed Chrisoula Roumeliotis as the group’s new director.

A Hilltown resident for 18 years, Roumeliotis moved to Cummington from Worthington in 2015.

She says she hopes to continue the programs currently offered by the COA and to add others that may be of interest to the community.

Roumeliotis is encouraging people to reach out to her with any questions, suggestions or concerns, or to just stop by and say hello.

Her office hours are Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays 4 to 8 p.m. She can also be reached by calling 634-2262.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazette@gmail.com.

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