In the late 1980s, a community health nurse from the Visiting Nurse Association took it upon herself to make “home visits” to the homeless guests at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis. She used a closet at the shelter to store clean dry socks, Band-Aids, lotions, ointments, and other first aid supplies. Soon, a small clinic began, providing basic services like blood pressure checks, foot care, help with medication acquisition, and treatment of cuts and bruises.
Eventually, more space at the shelter was converted into an examination room and a waiting area. Regular clinic hours were established. A VNA physician spoke with the Medical Director of Cape Cod Hospital to recruit more physician volunteers. Both primary care and specialty physicians began to help out at the twice-a-week evening clinics. Podiatrists and pharmacists helped as well. It was truly a grass-roots, hands-on movement. In 1999 this effort became the O’Neil Health Clinic with two exam rooms, a basic lab, and a reception area. By 2001 the O’Neil budget was close to $1M with 7,000 patient encounters a year. In 2002, the O’Neil Health Clinic moved to its next location with the help of a generous donation in memory of Florence and Mary Duffy.
Now a free-standing, federally qualified health center, Duffy Health Center has been funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Care for the Homeless program since 2002. Duffy Health Center has evolved into a complex organization with multiple medical and non-medical services and an increasingly multi-disciplinary professional staff. By 2010, Duffy Health Center recorded 23,000 patient encounters. With an annual budget over $6M, today Duffy is Barnstable County's primary health care provider for homeless adults, and has become an active participant and a respected leader of community-wide efforts to reduce homelessness on Cape Cod.
Our team includes physicians, nurse practitioners, psychiatric providers, registered nurses, licensed clinical therapists, substance abuse counselors, case managers, administrative staff and welcoming front office employees.