Our Mission and History

Our Programs

Our Leadership

Our Staff

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan

Community Partnerships

Commitment to Quality

Our Mission

The mission of Duffy Health Center is to provide equitable, integrated primary health care and support services to persons who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness on Cape Cod, and to improve the quality of life for vulnerable and marginalized populations through community collaborations, leadership, and advocacy.

Learn how our mission comes to life in our 2021 Impact Report.

Our Evolution & Accomplishments


Duffy Health Center has provided health care, outreach and support services to adults who are experiencing and at risk for homelessness in Barnstable County for over three decades. What began in the early 1990s as a volunteer free clinic run by nurse practitioners and Dr. Arthur Bickford has evolved and expanded to meet client needs. In 1997, the clinic became incorporated as the O’Neill Health Center and was licensed for primary care services. At that time the health center adjoined the Housing Assistance Corporation’s NOAH shelter, now known as St. Joseph House, and primarily served individuals identified as chronically homeless. Judy Best-Lavigniac, a nurse practitioner involved in the volunteer operation of the O’Neill Health Center, became our first executive director.

Expansion of Services

Over time, the growing number of clients led to an application for federal support. In 2002 the O’Neill Health Center received a federal Health Care for the Homeless grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This enabled expansion to a second site. As a HRSA grantee, we operate under federal guidelines specific to clinical practice, operations and Board of Directors oversight.

While the O’Neill Health Center grew, a commitment to addressing the underlying causes of homelessness helped focus agency efforts on building bridges with many community partners. Strategic partnerships have resulted in financial support and innovative programs helping people achieve and maintain health and housing.

Under the leadership of our second executive director, Claire Goyer, in the 2000s the health center became a licensed mental health clinic and developed state of the art, evidence-based case management programs, including the Housing First initiative through MassHealth. In 2006, the health center’s legal name was officially changed to Duffy Health Center.

In 2011, we moved into our current home at 94 Main Street. This was the realization of a long-term dream to house all of our programs under one roof. Our client census expanded from 2,600 to over 3,300 because we increased physical space for care and expanded the eligibility definition of homelessness to include persons who are living doubled up with others or otherwise unstably housed, as well as those living in poverty and needing a more integrated model of care.

Duffy Health Center’s growth since 2010 has been fueled by health center expansion funds granted through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and state and federal funds for responding to the epidemic of opiate use disorder (OUD). 

HRSA invested ACA funds into community health center integration, bringing mental health and addiction treatment services into the primary care setting and effectively creating ‘one-stop-shopping’ for low income and vulnerable populations, thus improving access to care. With ACA funds, Duffy Health Center:

  • Expanded behavioral health outreach by creating a ‘bridge team’ to engage patients in inpatient and outpatient mental health programs at Cape Cod Healthcare.  

  • Formalized our outreach to the county correctional facility and our partnership with the courts and probation.

  • Improved access to intake appointments by moving to an ‘open access’ model and reduced the no show rate by 50%.

  • Joined the Behavioral Health Community Partner program, providing care coordination to persons with serious mental illness and dually diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD).

  • Incorporated spiritual care into our model and leveraged the expertise of our Spiritual Care Provider to implement the Zero Suicide evidence-based suicide prevention program on Cape Cod. 

The public outcry to address opiate addiction and improve access to treatment and recovery support led to:

  • The rapid growth in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) patient slots from 120 to 400.

  • Implementation of a Recovery Support Navigator model to connect our clients to services in the community to assist them in their recovery.

  • Duffy becoming the service provider for the state-funded Moms Do Care program, supporting pregnant and parenting moms with a history of opiate use disorder.

  • A partnership with Behavioral Health Innovators to augment services for teens with problematic drug and alcohol behavior through the creation of RecoveryBUILD, an Alternative Peer Group model.

  • A collaboration with AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod through the RIZE Foundation to outreach to persons with opiate use disorder (OUD) to engage them in medical care.

  • Requests from the Towns of Yarmouth and Dennis to provide community-specific access to recovery support and subsequent grant funding and participating in a regional NIH grant to provide outreach to persons with SUD. 

These efforts occurred parallel to our implementation of a Shared Medical Appointment model by which Duffy has provided treatment for patients diagnosed with Hepatitis C, curing almost 200 persons of this disease. 

Community Leadership

While energy was focused on internal program expansion, Duffy simultaneously grew to be recognized as a leader in outreach, collaboration and advocacy. Duffy staff and managers play lead roles in local, statewide and national forums on homelessness, substance use disorder treatment, and recovery. We joined the Cape Cod Healthcare Accountable Care Organization and work jointly with our partners to reduce costs and improve care for our patients. Our outreach work and respite programming through our emergency motel shelter program, In From the Streets, has gained Duffy support and admiration from our partners, elected officials, foundations and other leaders in the community. 

Since 2010, we’ve built our infrastructure to include depth and breadth in our management structure, an organized approach to improving quality of care and compliance and risk management functions. We have received Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition and regular HRSA awards for improvements in quality of care.  

Our Evolution Continues

Duffy staff and managers are called upon for advice and guidance and to teach others. We have been publicly recognized for our irreplaceable role in the community’s response to the COVID pandemic. Our behavioral health work continues to expand through the implementation of the Recovery Coach model and outreach programs to persons with OUD.  We are actively working to grow in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, telehealth, and becoming a stronger voice advocating on behalf of impoverished and vulnerable populations in need of a rich blend of services to address their complex health and social needs.   

Duffy’s greatest asset is its staff. Our team includes talented physicians, nurse practitioners, psychiatric providers, registered nurses, licensed clinical therapists, case managers, recovery support staff, community health workers, our spiritual care provider, and administrative staff. Staff expertise, talent and commitment keep us focused on our mission. They are the reason why Duffy Health Center is a community leader in delivering services and seeking solutions to end homelessness on Cape Cod.        

Statement of Nonpartisanship

Duffy Health Center is a private, nonprofit organization recognized as exempt from Federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Duffy Health Center’s mission is to provide comprehensive, integrated health care and support services to persons who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness on Cape Cod, and to improve the quality of life for vulnerable populations through community collaborations, leadership, and advocacy.  We provide high-quality, cost-effective, community based comprehensive primary and preventive health care without regard to an individual’s or family’s ability to pay for such services.

Duffy Health Center may take positions on or advocate with regard to public policy issues pertinent to its mission, consistent with the requirements of applicable Federal and state law. However, we conduct all activities in an entirely nonpartisan manner.  Duffy Health Center may acknowledge the elected officials who support us, but we do not endorse, support, or oppose candidates for public office, nor do we intervene in any election on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate or political party.