March 24, 2019
Last-Minute Help Saves 20 Jobs at Whittier Street Health Center

Frederica Williams: We have a path forward
June 19, 2018 — A last-minute intervention by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh means 20 workers who were laid off last week at the Whittier Street Health Center, a Boston nonprofit that provides primary care and support services to primarily low-income, racially and ethnically diverse populations, will keep their jobs, although the organization continues to face financial pressure.

Frederica M. Williams, chief executive officer of Whittier Street Health Center (WSHC) since 2002, yesterday announced that after speaking with Walsh, who told her he wanted to help and with "support from others, we have a pathway forward that will put Whittier on a stable financial footing for now."

The positions that were to be cut, including physicians, nurses, and mental health therapists, have been restored for now.

Williams didn't provide details on what financial support would be forthcoming, but noted that the loss of two grants totaling more than $600,000 would add to the projected $1.2 million loss that Whittier already faces.

Williams said, "The hope was these [two grants] could minimize the current deficit."

She added, "What we have learned in this process is that we need to review all our programs and staffing to ensure we are properly sized to deliver the best care possible to our community today and into the future."

WSHC employs 300 employees, and, according to a report in The Boston Globe, 1199SEIU is trying to organize a bargaining unit of around 80, with workers due to vote Wednesday on whether to join the union.

For the year ending June 30, 2017, WSHC reported $28.093 million in revenue, of which $1.327 million came from contributions and grants, and $27.991 million in expenses, according to its most recently available annual report.

WSHC, like other health care providers, depends on reimbursements from third-parties, including insurance companies. An overall shift to value-based reimbursement, which emphasizes paying for health outcomes as opposed to paying for procedures performed, is causing disruption, and sometimes havoc, throughout the U.S. health care system.

According to WHSC's five-year strategic plan, running through 2021, the organization intends to:
  • Increase fundraising results by 10% a year.
  • Expand its to support a comprehensive capital campaign.
  • Establish an endowment fund.
  • Lower overhead costs associated with its new facility.
  • Generate new revenue by renting its Community Education Room.
In 2012, WSHC moved into its current home, a then-newly built, 78,000-square-foot facility on Tremont Street in Roxbury, the first it owned since it was founded in 1933.

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