Student Access to Health Care

CHC Fitchburg

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates that students must be covered by a health insurance plan comparable to the policy offered by Fitchburg State or purchase the Fitchburg State health insurance plan. See the Student Health Insurance page for more information on medical insurance options. 

Fitchburg State University has partnered with Community Health Connections (CHC), a highly respected, federally qualified health center that has two locations very close to our campus, to provide services to the campus community. Many of our students and employees already use one of their five locations in our area.

The ACTION Community Health Center is located close to our campus in Central Plaza at 130 Water Street (Market Basket plaza), where students can access a broad array of primary care services, behavioral health care services,* and dental care.

CHC has created a dedicated phone line for Fitchburg State students to create appointments at the ACTION center: 978.410.6146.

Telehealth is available for some appointments. (More information about CHC can be found below.) CHC also has walk-in availability and same-day appointment availability for Fitchburg State students. 

Access to Gender Affirming Care and Medical Abortion

Pursuant to Chapter 127 of the Massachusetts Acts of 2022, Fitchburg State University has developed relationships with Community Health Connections (Gender Affirming Care) and the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (Gender Affirming Care and Medication Abortion). 

If you are in need of services related to pregnancy and medication abortion, the closest provider in Massachusetts is Planned Parenthood in Worcester (PPLM). This agency:

  • Provides in-person and telehealth abortion services in compliance with all PPLM policies and Massachusetts state laws. Patients looking to book this service for non-urgent assistance can call 800.258.4448 or utilize PPLM’s website ( for online scheduling. 
  • Provides patient navigation services, including assisting with urgent needs related to gestational limits, funding for transportation, cost of care, and any other barriers a patient may face. Patients or providers looking for assistance with patient navigation can reach out directly to the Patient Navigation Team at 617.616.1636. 

CHC Medical Clinic Hours

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday through Friday
  • 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, CHC Leominster Community Health and Urgent Care Center, 165 Mill St.

The cost for accessing care will usually be determined by what type of insurance you have.  

  • For students covered by MassHealth, most of the services will be provided at no cost (students will be required to designate Community Health Connections as their primary care provider);
  • For students enrolled in the University’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield student health insurance planthe office visit copayment is $15; or 
  • Students who waived the student health insurance and have their own plan should be aware that Community Health Connections participates with most insurance plans and the cost for medical visits and ancillary services will be determined by the insurance plan’s schedule of benefits.
  • Community Health Connections provides enrollment assistance to help find the right health insurance plan that fits your needs.

Community Health Connections seeks to remove the barriers to care and help you find the most convenient and affordable way to stay healthy. There are many options available to help you pay for you and your family’s healthcare needs. If you have any questions, please contact our Patient Services Team to discuss options including the Sliding Fee Scale Discount Program at 978.878.8100, option #6.

Kelly Goncalves of Community Health Connections

Fitchburg State has a dedicated provider located at the ACTION Center with preferred appointment availability for our students. Fitchburg State's dedicated provider is Kelly Goncalves, PA-C. Kelly is from Fitchburg and is a 2014 alumni of Fitchburg State University. Students may also use a second location at 326 Nichols Road in Fitchburg, as well as health centers located in Gardner and Leominster. Students will be able to access additional services such as optometry, podiatry, and dentistry at these other locations.

Students who do not wish to transfer their primary care physician to Community Health Connections may continue to access services at the four urgent care centers that are located close to our campus. Students who are on MassHealth should check the back of their insurance card to see if specific urgent care centers must be used or if there are any other restrictions.

Note that there is no special arrangement for access to care at those locations; out-of-pocket costs will be determined by individual insurance coverage. 

* Students will be able to continue to access Counseling Services on the Fitchburg State campus.

Frequently Asked Questions

Community Health Connections (CHC) is a federally qualified health care center that is as passionate about access to health care as we are about access to education. Their mission is to provide high quality, affordable  healthcare in our community. The ACTION Center, located in the Market Basket shopping center on Water Street, is within walking distance. There, students will have access to medical, dental, and behavioral health (including mental health providers who can prescribe medication). The Nichols Road location is about a mile from campus, and includes the services mentioned above, along with optometry and podiatry. Learn more about Community Health Connections.

Unlike an urgent care center or walk-in clinics, CHC is a Family Practice, which offers the benefit of coordinated health care. In order to access the services at CHC and benefit from the family practitioners, those accessing medical care must declare their primary care physician at CHC. Luckily, in Massachusetts, this is a very easy process. See below.

Do note that switching the PCP only applies to medical care. The other areas (dentistry, optometry, etc.) do not require a switch.

How to Change Your PCP to a CHC Provider

  • Call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card and ask about transferring to CHC.
  • You can switch back during the summer, if you prefer. Some plans also make special arrangements to transfer care when students are away from their service area.
  • Review your insurance plan; if there are limitations, you may want to consider enrolling in the school-sponsored Student Health Insurance Plan.

Fitchburg State students have the opportunity to walk-in and request an appointment with Fitchburg State's dedicated health care professional, Kelly Goncalves, PA-C at CHC's ACTION site at 130 Water Street (at the Central Plaza by Market Basket).

You are certainly welcome to make an appointment to find a time to come to CHC for care that is convenient for your schedule. Fitchburg State students have a dedicated phone line, 978.410.6146, that allows our students to have priority access to same-day appointments.

You will access your medical record in the same way. See the records page for more information. Existing medical records are stored in a secured location and accessed only by designated staff. Confidentiality of these records is maintained.

There are several ways to travel to the CHC locations. 

  • Take the Shuttle to the MART/T Station and walk a couple of blocks across the Water Street bridge to the ACTION Center
  • The ACTION Center is accessible by the #5 bus (free with your student ID)
  • The Nichols Road location is accessible by the #6 bus (free with your student ID)

On the weekends, students may utilize CHC Urgent Care Services at Leominster Community Health and Urgent Care Center, 165 Mill Street. Urgent Care is open Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and is accessible by the #3 bus. Questions about Urgent Care or call ahead 978.410.6111. 

CHC’s Patient Services Team can assist with questions about your healthcare insurance. You can reach out to them by calling 978.878.8100, option #6. 

CHC's ACTION site at 130 Water Street, in the Market Basket Plaza, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Tuesdays when Medical Services is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you need Urgent Care services on the weekend or before/after hours during the week, CHC Urgent Care can be reached at 978.410.6111. Both Leominster Community Health and Urgent Care Center and South Gardner Community Health and Urgent Care (X-ray services) are open Monday - Friday, 7:30 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5p.m.

Information about Public Health Concerns

With the ending of the COVID State of Emergency, while we strongly encourage members of our community to keep up with COVID vaccinations and boosters, Fitchburg State University will no longer require proof of vaccine and booster from on campus students.

As the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve from a pandemic to an endemic disease, mitigation strategies also continue to evolve. The university reserves the right to revise expectations based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Massachusetts Department of Health guidance. See the latest information for the 2023-24 school year.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. It can cause flu-like symptoms and a rash. The monkeypox virus does not spread easily between people like COVID-19 or the flu. People who do not have symptoms are not considered infectious.

Monkeypox is spread through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact such as:

  • Direct contact with monkeypox rash or scabs from a person with monkeypox 
  • Touching objects, fabrics (clothing, bedding, or towels), and surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
  • Contact with fluids from the mouth, nose, throat, or lungs from a person with monkeypox

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and monkeypox is rarely fatal. Monkeypox is not related to chickenpox. Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms that could be monkeypox.

The university reserves the right to revise expectations based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Massachusetts Department of Health guidance.