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February 20, 2017 2017 Business Leaders: Hall of Fame

Anthes grew health nonprofit into a community force

PHOTO/NATHAN FISKE Frances Anthes has led the Family Health Center through a tumultuous period in the healthcare field, all while the population's needs have shifted.

While working as a teacher shortly after graduating from college, Frances M. Anthes started to notice how a child's health impacted his or her academic performance. Since then, she has made it her goal to provide everyone – regardless of economic status – with access to comprehensive health care.

In her 25 years with Family Health Center of Worcester – including 20 as president and CEO – Anthes has committed herself to doing just that. Under her leadership, Family Health Center of Worcester has physically expanded into the Webster Public Schools and into Southbridge, increased residency programs to include training for nurse practitioners, dentists, social workers and others, and added an onsite pharmacy and other capabilities, including breast cancer screening.

“Fran is a visionary,” said Louis Bond, the chairman of the board at Family Health Center. “She has a firm view of the larger picture, which includes the great need to supply health care for all.”

Population needs

All of this has been done to accommodate a growing patient population – which was about 12,000 when she came on as CEO and has since tripled.

Anthes understands in order to improve the health of a community as a whole, those in the medical industry need to focus on social determinants of health – including access to transportation, as well as housing and economic status. That’s why it’s important for Family Health Center to offer as many services as it possibly can, she said.

“As a community health center, we really try to be really comprehensive – we try to be a one-stop shop,” she said. “One of the reasons we try to do that is because a lot of times, patients have trouble getting to other sites.”

Anthes is constantly looking for ways to work with patients and other community organizations to maximize the potential of the health center’s reach, Bond said. Under her leadership, Family Health Center has expanded into six Worcester public schools. A partnership with a seventh, Worcester East Middle School, is underway.

“She understands the intricate workings of the political system at work in the Worcester area, and the general dynamics of the community at large,” Bond said. “She is an excellent administrator/manager, and at the same time cares for each person who walks through the center’s doors.”

A New Jersey native, Anthes originally came to Worcester to attend Assumption College, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1973.

She said she likes Worcester because it is diverse and full of interesting people and resources, but small enough where she can make an impact.

“I like it as a city that’s the size in which you can get involved and have an impact in things that are going on,” Anthes said.

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