PORTLAND – The Portland Community Health Center on Park Avenue is getting a $680,000 federal grant to expand its services, U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said in a press release Tuesday.

The center serves about 3,000 patients annually, providing primary medical and mental health care. Services are provided regardless of one’s ability to pay. A sliding scale is used for patients who can afford to pay.

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The center had been operated by the city since 2009, but it became an independent nonprofit at the beginning of the year.

Leslie Brancato, chief executive officer of the Health Center, credited Pingree with helping the center navigate red tape that threatened short-term funding needed to stay open. 

“The funding we needed to pay our staff last week had gotten held up because of a bureaucratic snafu and only after she got involved were we able to get it sorted out,” Brancato said in a written statement.

Pingree credited the center as being a life line for thousands in the community.

“Without it, many people would go without basic health care, and that’s especially true during tough economic times and when state programs are being cut,” Pringree said in the news release.

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, the majority owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.