Attends grand opening of Goodwin Community Health Center in Somersworth

SOMERSWORTH — Chamber members, local business owners, Somersworth employees, Congressman Frank Guinta — even the health center’s namesake herself — showed up Thursday evening to celebrate the grand opening of the Goodwin Community Health center at its new Route 108 location.

The Tri-Chamber event hosted more than 200 business owners others from the Somersworth, Rochester and Dover communities, including Somersworth High principal Sharon Lampros, Somersworth City Manager Bob Belmore, Somersworth Mayor Lincoln Soldati and Somersworth Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Soldati.

The two-hour event featured a drink bar, appetizers, live music, a series of raffles and even a gourmet cupcake display featuring treats from JD’s Sweets N’ Treats in Rochester.

While many attendees mingled with other business owners and town officials, tours of the newly opened center continued in the background. Laughter from all around the lobby area could be heard clearly over the live guitar and band music being played from behind the receptionist’s desk in the lobby.

Right before 6 p.m., the room was brought to attention when 92-year-old Avis Goodwin was wheeled into the building.

Her daughter, Valerie, looked on at her mother as she posed for pictures near the buffet line.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Valerie Goodwin. “I’m sorry, I’m getting emotional. It’s just fantastic to see her here for the first time. She would have never imagined this. She saw a need in the community and was at a position at Wentworth-Douglass at the time where she could enlist others to help her.”

Valerie Goodwin is, of course, talking about how her mother founded Goodwin Community Health in the 1960s after seeing many woman being turned away from prenatal care at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital because of their lack of insurance.

The director of social services at the time, Avis Godwin saw the need for prenatal care, regardless of insurance status. More than 45 years later, her foresight to see a need blossomed from just prenatal care, into dental, primary care and mental health, among other services.

“I think many in the community think we’re just primary care, when really, we’re so much more than that and we have far more reaching effects in the community,” said Public Relations Manager of Goodwin, Lara Willard. “This event is our opportunity to welcome local business owners so they can see how we serve the community.”

Goodwin’s three-tiered care model, which offers primary, mental and dental care to all its patients, is a model practiced by only one other community health care center in New Hampshire.

The model allows an individual receiving primary care, to also have access to a social worker and a psychiatric nurse practitioner for mental needs that can’t wait to be treated while a patient may sit on a waiting list for a licensed psychiatrist.

Jennifer Soldati said the new location of the center is perfect for the community because it’s so accessible.

“It’s much more efficient, it makes perfect business sense and it saves a lot of time,” she said. “It’s easily accessible.”

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