Greater Seacoast Community Health Receives Part of Grant to Boost Community Health Safety Net

(L to R) Erin Holt, Director, Marketing & Communications, Northeast Delta Dental; Ed Shanshala, CEO, Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, Inc.; Kris McCracken, President & CEO, Amoskeag Health; Greg White, Co-CEO Lamprey Health; Tom Raffio, President & CEO, Northeast Delta Dental; Jim Avrett, CEO, Greater Seacoast Community Health; Joe Errante, DDS, Vice President of Network and Clinical Strategies

PORTSMOUTH NH and SOMERSWORTH NH – As of May of this year, New Hampshire’s largest community health centers faced critical financial shortfalls totaling $3.5 million. The shortfall was the result of years of a public health pandemic, Medicaid reimbursement below market rates, and an eroding 340B pharmaceutical savings program that helps vulnerable or underserved patients purchase drugs at lower costs.

To continue services that provide essential primary health care, behavioral health therapy, substance use disorder services, and vital community connections, Northeast Delta Dental responded to the call for emergency stabilization funding with a $500,000 gift.

In the Seacoast region, Greater Seacoast Community Health, which operates Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth and Families First Health Center in Portsmouth, received a portion of the grant. Jim Avrett, CEO of Greater Seacoast, noted that the broad range of services offered at community health centers impact the social determinants of health. “Determinants like substance misuse, untreated mental illness, and housing and food insecurity all challenge New Hampshire’s ability to attract businesses, educate our young people, and maintain a productive workforce,” he said. “By helping sustain our capacity to address these issues with our patients, the funding from Northeast Delta Dental ultimately improves the well-being of all of us in the state.”

Kris McCracken, President and CEO of Amoskeag Health in Manchester, identified the collective need for support to stabilize the state’s health safety net, “Without access, people will burden emergency departments or go without critical treatment for prevention, management, and care for chronic or emerging conditions. The impact of the Northeast Delta Dental gift resonates across the state to our diverse, underserved, and vulnerable populations.” She expanded on the importance of community health centers, “Community Health Centers employ highly trained providers and care staff who have the expertise to remove barriers to care and address the whole person – their social needs, housing issues, behavioral health, and many other socioeconomic challenges.”

Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, which serves residents across southern Coos County and Northern Grafton County, also received a portion of the grant. Ed Shanshala, CEO, said “With this gift, we can retain the exceptional staff who provide a broad range of services in a cost-effective, single location that address physical, mental, and oral healthcare as well as wraparound services.”

All community health centers have a large percentage of patients who are uninsured or insured by Medicaid and Medicare. Lamprey Health co-CEO Greg White said, “This year we saw the first adjustment since 2011 to align reimbursement rates with the increasing cost of providing care. For some NH FQHCs, up to half of our patients are in the Medicaid category, which was covering only 80 percent of the cost of care. Moving forward, the adjustment will ensure continued services for the long term, while this significant gift will help us to sustain services through the accumulated losses.”  

Northeast Delta Dental President & CEO Tom Raffio said that when the call came in to boost up the safety net of community health across the state, Delta Dental had to respond. “We recognize that partnerships are vital to the success of community health and well-being. Addressing holistic health care (physical, mental, and oral) and strengthening community partnerships are essential to continue improving patient care across the state.”

See Greater Seacoast Community Health CEO Jim Avrett discuss the importance of this grant with other NH community health leaders on this video.

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