Since the nation’s first health Community Health Centers opened in 1965, expansion of the federally supported health center system to more than 1,400 organizations across the United States has created an affordable health care option for more than 30 million people.
The Greater Seacoast region of New Hampshire was part of this critical Community Health Care movement. The two health centers that today comprise Greater Seacoast Community Health were founded to address gaps and disparities in access to pregnancy care for unwed, low-income and/or uninsured women. From their origins as prenatal clinics, both Families First and Goodwin Community Health went on to meet more and more community needs by adding a broad range of services to support the health and well-being of the whole person.
• 1969: Social worker Avis Goodwin established the first prenatal clinic in the country in the basement of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, recruiting volunteer physicians to care for uninsured and underinsured pregnant women. This grew into Goodwin Community Health.
• 1984: Portsmouth Prenatal Clinic was founded at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. This became Families First Health & Support Center.
• 1980s: Home visiting, parent education and family programs added at Families First. This grew into The Family Center, still based in Portsmouth and offering programs and services in several other towns.
• 1990s: Both health centers add primary care services for children and adults and become Federally Qualified Health Centers.
• 2000s: Both health centers add dental care and behavioral health services. Families First also adds mobile health clinics.
• 2010s: Both health centers add medication-assisted treatment and other Substance Use Disorder recovery services. Strafford County Public Health Network and SOS Recovery Community Organization are both established and become affiliated with Goodwin Community Health.
• 2018: Goodwin Community Health and Families First merge under the legal name Greater Seacoast Community Health, maintaining their separate facilities in Somersworth and Portsmouth. Lilac City Pediatrics became part of Greater Seacoast later that year. The merged organization also includes the Strafford County Public Health Network and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
• 2020s: Greater Seacoast becomes the first community health center in New Hampshire to host a resident physician program. SOS Recovery Community Organization receives 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status and becomes an independent organization.
All programs include care coordination and other supportive services targeted to the vulnerable population we serve.