Making Democracy Work

Health and Human Services

Numerous public agencies and private entities serve the health and social services needs of the people of Falomouth.

Numerous public agencies and private entities serve the health and social service needs of the people of Falmouth. They cannot all be mentioned here. We have tried to include all relevant services provided by town government, many of the services available from Barnstable County, and some from locally based private entities. Each week The Falmouth Enterprise lists counseling services, support groups, clubs, relief agencies, walk-in clinics, libraries, places of worship, as well as waste management facility hours and recycling collection dates and times.

Health

The Falmouth Board of Health has five members appointed by the Board of Selectmen. It deals with broad policy issues, sets priorities, coordinates with other town boards and provides direction to the Health Department. It comments on subdivision plans and acts on requests for septic system variances. A primary goal is to promote safe food service to the public through a program of frequent restaurant inspections and education. The Health Department. is headed by a Health Agent appointed by the Board of Health. It serves as the repository of public health records, carries out local and state directives, and enforces all regulations under the jurisdiction of the Board of Health. Most of its responsibilities relate to disease control. For example, it records reports of contagious disease, investigates outbreaks of food-borne disease and maintains a supply of vaccines from the state for distribution to local medical services. It also inspects and licenses various businesses and services, including hotels and restaurants.

The Health Department also coordinates Falmouth's participation in a regional hazardous waste collection program which is free for residents. It is the first responder to spills of toxic or hazardous materials. All buildings open to the public will become smoke-free on January 1, 2004. This public health measure was long in coming, but no longer seems controversial.

Health Care Facilities

Falmouth Hospital is a private non-profit community hospital, serving Falmouth, Mashpee, Bourne, and Sandwich. Opened in 1963, it is a well-equipped four-story facility located on Ter Heun Drive overlooking the town. It has 83 licensed acute care beds, including a 10-bed intensive/coronary care unit and four operating room suites. The physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy, and the radiology and pathology departments provide services to both inpatients and outpatients.

The hospital offers a cardiac rehabilitation program targets inpatients and outpatients who have had heart attacks or heart surgery, and an outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program aids those with breathing problems. Advanced technologies, such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CAT (Computer Assisted Tomography) scans, chemotherapy and laser surgery are available. In 1996, Falmouth Hospital added the Constance B. Faxon Outpatient Surgery and Maternity Center. The Center houses a new Maternity Center, Surgery Center, Outpatient Testing, Women's Health Resource Center and Community Health Education Center. The Hospital is building an oncology center.

A helicopter landing pad close to the parking lot permits both rapid delivery of injured seamen and island residents evacuated by the Coast Guard to Falmouth and also emergency transfer to Boston. The emergency room is especially active during the summer months; many residents and vacationers look to it for their primary health care.

The hospital has a full-time chaplain and an active social work department. The Falmouth Hospital Auxiliary manages and staffs a gift shop and a thrift shop and conducts other fund-raising activities.

Cape Cod Healthcare The merger of Falmouth Hospital Foundation with Cape Cod Health Systems, the parent of Cape Cod Hospital in early 1996, has established a Cape-wide health system, Cape Cod Healthcare. This system services all towns on the Cape with locally controlled inpatient and outpatient services in a variety of settings.

The Visiting Nurses Association of Cape Cod is the oldest non-profit healthcare service on the Cape, having originated in Falmouth in 1915 with a single nurse. Now it is a certified health agency serving the entire Cape. Its staff of more than 850 make more than 350,000 home visits annually + 90,000 in Falmouth alone.

The VNA provides a wide variety of patient and community health services; a call to the VNA Senior Services Information line provides a description. The VNA depends on public and private grants and individual donations as well as insurance and contracts for support.

Gosnold and Bramblebush, neither of which is affiliated with the Cape Cod Healthcare, round out the Ter Heun Drive health care facilities. Gosnold provides a wide range of inpatient and outpatient substance abuse services to adults and adolescents, including medical detoxification, individual and group counseling, family intervention and adventure based therapy. Special programs are available for substance abusers who are pregnant or hearing-impaired.

Bramblebush, located behind Falmouth Hospital, contains a large concentration of private doctor's offices. Many Falmouth physicians have their offices in other locations, primarily near the center of town.

There are several nursing homes on Cape Cod. They include the JML Care Center, Heritage at Falmouth, Harborside Healthcare, the Royal Megansett Nursing & Retirement Home and the Royal Nursing & Alzheimer's Center. All must accept Medicaid as well as private-pay patients and most accept Medicare. Some have rehabilitation units, Alzheimer's units, medical day care programs or other special services. There are also retirement complexes which offer limited nursing care.

Falmouth Human Services is a multi-service agency, funded by the town and staffed by a full-time Director, professional social workers and students working towards a M.S.W. degree. It is overseen by the Human Services Committee, which has nine members appointed by the Selectmen. The agency provides direct counseling services to children twelve years and older, to families, couples, individuals and groups. The staff provide outreach for housing needs, services to the handicapped, employment training, financial assistance information, and referrals. The agency is a strong presence in the community, organizing community meetings on human services and supervising contracts with Cape-wide human service agencies and organizations serving Falmouth residents. In addition, Falmouth Human Services sponsors the Friendly Visitor program at the Senior Center, which serves shut-in elderly and disabled persons. Each year Falmouth Human Services gives Commendation awards to individuals and groups who over time have alleviated human suffering through human service work.

Falmouth Human Services cooperates with nearly one hundred public and private agencies on the Cape and publishes a brochure (Human Services Providers) listing the services available in Falmouth. Falmouth is fortunate in the range and variety of such services as well as county, state and federal programs not listed here. (see their booklet).

Other Services

The Department of Veterans Service is located in the Town Hall. It assists veterans and their families in procedures and filing for pensions, Social Security claims, education benefits, job training and home loans. Advice is also offered for other benefits and facilities.

Falmouth Service Center was created in 1983 to provide emergency help to individuals and families. Its mission is to ease stress, reduce hunger, and improve the quality of life for our neighbors in need. An important goal of FSC is to increase self-sufficiency for clients by helping to build networks among clients and agencies and, of utmost importance, between neighbors. FSC provides food, clothing and/or limited financial assistance with rent or utilities to Falmouth residents in need. It is supported by individuals, schools, organizations and the faith community through the Community Fund, sponsored by The Falmouth Enterprise, which raises about $295,000 in financial contributions. An additional $314,000 worth of local food is contributed annually. In 2002, the Service Center moved to its own new building and warehouse at 611 Gifford Street in a campus that also includes a community garden project, 28 new units of attractive, affordable housing and the Police Athletic League.

Around the Table serves hot lunches at St. Barnabas Parish House to anyone who feels the need of companionship and a meal in pleasant surroundings.

The Community Health Center of Cape Cod, located in Mashpee with a branch at Homeport in Falmouth, provides free health care to uninsured and underinsured adults between the ages of 18 and 64. In addition to primary care services, the clinic provides mental health services, financial screening and eligibility determination for MassHealth and Free Care, free laboratory work and x-rays through an arrangement with Falmouth Hospital, and access to free or reduced cost medications. Family planning is also provided. Falmouth Human Services spearheads a community coalition to deal with substance abuse prevention.

Housing

There is an affordable housing crisis in Falmouth, as on the rest of the Cape, due to the high and rising cost of housing and to the drop in the number of rental units. The town is committed to addressing this crisis. The Affordable Housing Committee was created in 2000 to identify the nature and extent of the needs and to recommend ways of meeting them. The task force has issued reports, sponsored forums and interČagency meetings, and drafted articles for Town Meeting consideration. The task force holds public meetings twice a month.

In 2010, the median price of a single-family house was $372,000 and of Falmouth's 14,400 year-round housing units, 5.6%, were designated as affordable. The Falmouth Housing Authority is cooperating with the Falmouth Housing Corporation and the Falmouth Housing Trust to buy and build more affordable housing, even though government housing programs are being reduced.

The Falmouth Housing Authority is a five-member board created in 1948 by a vote of Town Meeting under state law. Four members are elected by Falmouth voters and the fifth appointed by the Governor. The authority operates through an executive director, who is an ex-officio member of the board. Its offices are located in the Harborview apartment complex. The authority's mandate is to provide "decent, safe and sanitary dwelling accommodations" for individuals and families unable to afford housing in the regular market. Funding comes from state aid and federal sources.

The law requires there be no racial, religious, ethnic or gender discrimination in selecting tenants for the program. The authority has housing units for the handicapped, for disabled, and for people over sixty-two years of age. There are over 300 units of public housing; one Chapter 689 special needs home for eight residents; plus over 400 units of scattered site, privately owned housing under the Section 8 (Federal) and Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (State) assistance programs. Falmouth residents have priority on the State waiting list for these dwellings.

Falmouth Housing Trust (FHT) is a non-profit community development corporation established in 1986. It promotes and provides for permanently affordable housing to low and moderate income, first-time buyers and renters. Its revolving loan fund assists with down payments and closing costs. The office is located in the Falmouth Human Services office.

The Falmouth Housing Corporation is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. Its new units on Gifford Street and Main Street are managed by the Housing Authority.

Elder Services

In 1971, Town Meeting created the Falmouth Council on Aging with seven members who are appointed by the Selectmen. These members appoint a broadly representative advisory committee to the Falmouth Senior Center. The Senior Center on Dillingham Ave. was built in 1978, with an addition in 1989. The program is funded by the town's Council on Aging plus other donations. The Executive Director and his small staff coordinate over 50 activities and services at the Center each month. Information and referral services are provided in cooperation with other agencies.

The Council on Aging provides programs at the center for health screening and health care information, legal and financial counseling, fuel assistance and a program called Serving the Health Insurance Needs of the Elderly (SHINE). Numerous volunteers conduct arts and crafts classes, exercise and dancercise, a chorus group, card games, social events, trips and tours. The Outreach Department and the Friendly Visitors Program assist homebound seniors. Volunteers prepare the monthly newsletter for mailing. Since 1973, a minibus for senior citizens has operated from the center, transporting people to shops and medical appointments. Bus trips, crafts, and games offer recreational opportunities.

Meals on Wheels also operates from the center. Meals prepared in school kitchens are assembled at the center for volunteer drivers to pick up and deliver to ailing and shut-in individuals.

Cemeteries

Falmouth cemeteries are spread throughout town and the oldest go back to the beginnings of the community. The old town cemetery is located off Mill Road, in what was the earliest center of town and extends to Siders Pond. Falmouth's first child born to the settlers, Moses Hatch, was born within a stone's throw and is buried here. Headstones date from the early 1700s. In the old Quaker cemetery, sited along an ancient way in West Falmouth, 69 burials were made between 1685 and 1775. Headstones were proscribed at the time as being too worldly, but the area was later enclosed with a fence. More recent graves surround the Quaker Meeting House.

In Woods Hole, next to the Church of the Messiah, is an ecumenical cemetery owned by Falmouth and maintained by the church. The earliest burial was in 1778 of a child three years and nine months old. Next to the Poor House on East Main Street is a Methodist cemetery with 79 gravesites. Almost all stones are dated in the 1800s. A grassed park-like area with benches and a picket fence separates the graves from the busy thoroughfare. There are old burying grounds next to the North Falmouth Congregational Church and the Waquoit Congregational Church. The Falmouth Jewish Congregation maintains the historical cemetery grounds of the former East End Meeting House on Sandwich Road where it worships and has also established a new cemetery at 7 Hatchville Road.

Currently the most used burial grounds are the Oak Grove Cemetery off Jones Road and St. Joseph's Cemetery off Gifford Street. Falmouth also uses the Massachusetts National Cemetery at Otis, for veterans and their spouses only. The town is custodian of funds accumulated by the owners of the several cemeteries. Interest collected from these funds is returned annually to the owners.