Integrated Health Services Make a Difference for Patient

Medical Assistant Donna Bernier (left) and Dr. Matthew Nagelschmidt (right) have worked with Betty over the past 20 years.

Betty (name had been changed) first started coming to Goodwin Community Health, now part of Greater Seacoast Community Health, over 20 years ago after learning that the health care center offered sliding scale fee discounts for patients. Since then, she has participated in Greater Seacoast’s variety of integrated services, including diabetes care, asthma management, medication assistance, and dental care.

Back in the early 2000s, Betty’s husband had his own business and had a high deductible health insurance plan, but health care costs kept going up. Her sister-in-law told her about our organization’s sliding scale fee discount program where services are provided at a discount based on income. Betty made an appointment and “the rest was history,” as she says.

Betty’s primary care physician diagnosed her with diabetes and asthma. She attended classes at the community health center to help manage her diabetes. The center staff have also helped manage her asthma, and she hasn’t had an asthma attack in four years. She also receives dental care.

“I’ve never met anyone in the health centers that I didn’t get along with from the aides to the doctors. I have no complaints!” said Betty.

By being a patient and attending various groups and classes at Goodwin, Betty works closely with Donna Bernier, a medical assistant who has been an employee for over 20 years. Among other roles, Bernier oversees Goodwin’s Medication Assistance Program (MAP) where she helps Betty, and other patients at the federal poverty level, apply to receive free prescription medications directly from the pharmaceutical companies. Betty works closely with Bernier to obtain medications needed to keep her symptoms under control.

“If it wasn’t for the sliding scale fee discount and help with my medications, I don’t know where I’d be,” she said.

Betty currently sees a family medicine physician resident through the HCA Healthcare/Tufts University School of Medicine: Portsmouth Regional Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program. Greater Seacoast was the first community health center in New Hampshire to serve as a professional outpatient home for physician residents.

Betty said she really likes the resident physician she has been seeing. At a recent visit, she told him she had pain in her hand. Following the exam, he consulted with Dr. Joann Buonomano, Greater Seacoast’s Chief Medical Officer who oversees the residency program, for a second opinion. Dr. Buonomano listened to Betty’s concerns and agreed with the resident’s assessment.

“That’s what I’ve found with all the doctors [at GSCH],” Betty said. “They’re listening and really interested in what I’m saying. They take the time to answer any questions I might have, and they care.”


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