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May 1, 2012 | last updated May 1, 2012 1:59 pm

Grant aids expansion at community health center

The Portland Community Health Center is getting a $500,000 grant to help it expand and renovate its Park Avenue facility. The money comes from the federal Affordable Care Act.

The renovation will allow the center to accommodate more patients and make medical care more efficient, according to a press release from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. The Portland Community Health Center currently serves 3,000 patients, and after the renovations will be able to see another 1,000 patients.

"This investment makes health care more accessible for people in our community who can't afford it, without putting that burden on local property taxes," Pingree said in the release.

The center is one of three in Maine that received a total of $1.27 million. The Penobscot Community Health Center in Bangor received $498,173, while Pines Health Service in Caribou received $270,000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A total of $728 million was awarded throughout the country. The Affordable Care Act includes $9.5 billion to expand community health center services and $1.5 billion for major construction and renovation over a five-year time span.

Nationwide, the funding doled out so far has boosted employment at community health centers 15%, according to DHHS.

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