MGH Charlestown Health Center to Celebrate 50 Years on Friday

For Dr. Michael Garrity, Charlestown was exactly what he was looking for – both personally and professionally.

Garrity, who has been at the health center for 27 years, is also a Charlestown resident, and he said when he came to the Town in the 1990s, he found just the kind of work he was looking for.

“It always comes down to the people,” he said. “The patients are good. I’ve been here 27 years and I’ve been seeing some of my patients for 27 years. The people here are wonderful and the families are inter-connected. It’s really a community health center feel and it’s what I always wanted to do. I feel like I hit the jackpot. I come to work every day and never feel like, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to see this person or that person.’ It’s never like that.”

Garrity and many from the health center on High Street will come together on Friday from 4-7 p.m. to celebrate the milestone 50th anniversary of MGH Charlestown, which started in 1968 when the City put out the call to providers to help the community. The celebration will include many memories from patients and providers and staff at the health center over the past 50 years, including a video called ’50 Voices.’ Additionally, the keynote speaker will be Roger Sweet, the first director of the health center.

One of the longest-running staffers at the MGH Charlestown is Finance and Operations Director Claire Conlan, who came to the health center 38 years ago.

“I had a baby and was going to work here as a part-time job,” she said. “I had worked at the ATF and this was to be part-time, but it grew into something I liked and became full-time…When I first came, it was much more of a neighborhood center and we served mostly patients from Charlestown. Now we serve all kinds of people, people who live here and are new, people who have been here a long time, people from outside that moved and just like the health center. We still have multi-generational families that still come here, even if they have left.”

Conlan said she loves working at the health center, and finds the operations work to be a challenge every day. She said she also likes the interaction with patients.

Jean Bernhardt said one piece of the story about today’s MGH Charlestown is the growth. The patient population is nearly two times the size it was when Dr. Garrity came. However, that growth has added to the diversity of patients and staff.

“The health center is a real treasure for the community,” said Dr. Garrity. “To walk down the street and to a doctor’s office is special. Plus, you have the back up of a world class hospital in MGH just a mile away.”

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