The future of health care in a post-pandemic world

The future of health care in a post-pandemic world

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PORTSMOUTH – Health care workers have had to make significant changes to the way they deliver services in light of COVID-19 and many of those changes will become the new normal going forward.

While infection control and disinfection have always been mainstays of any health care facility, COVID-19 forced a ramping up of sanitary practices and also resulted in the isolation of patients, both for their own safety, and to keep them from infecting others.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been hard hit because of the proximity of patients to each other. Visitors were quickly banned, except in some end-of-life cases at some facilities.

“I can’t imagine nursing homes and assisted living communities going back to normal any time soon,” said Tom Argue, president and director of Webster at Rye. “As long as COVID-19 is still in the greater community and there are community-acquired infections, seniors with co-morbidities in health care facilities will continue to be at much greater risk. This no doubt means Centers for Disease Control and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will continue to require that residents not dine together or have group activities without social distancing, visitors will continue to be restricted, employees will continue to be screened each time they enter and wear personal protective equipment, and residents and staff will continue to have rolling testing.”

“For assisted living communities where people have more options on whether to move in or wait, people are hesitant to move in knowing they are essentially severing any direct visits with their loved ones other than window visits or meetings via Skype or Zoom for the foreseeable future until such time as the visitation restrictions are lifted,” Argue said. “If this continues for another year or so, and it probably will for senior health care communities, assisted living communities will be significantly hurt by fewer admissions.”

Argue said every admission must be treated as a presumptive positive COVID-19, which requires isolation in a private room for 14 days.

“For most nursing homes set up with primarily semi-private rooms, this creates a bottleneck for admissions and much like assisted living communities, lower census,” he said. “Despite staff’s best efforts, the longer this continues the great potential for feelings of isolation and depression for residents and the more difficulty families will have accepting the restrictions.”

Olivia Korpi, marketing director at Wentworth Senior Living, said they will likely continue using telehealth where appropriate.

“We traditionally had a primary care doctor come in a couple of times a week,” Korpi said. “They are using telehealth and it is working. Obviously, there are times we need a doctor in, but we found not always, and I think that will continue.”

Korpi said the residents isolated to their rooms are actually expanding their circle of friends. The facility handed out a telephone directory of residents and she said patients are using it to call and talk with each other. She said they are taking advantage of things they might not have before, like book club, arts and crafts, and hallway exercise class.

“We are doing activities in small groups, socially distanced,” Korpi said. “We are using headphones with a Bluetooth microphone. They can be sanitized, and our residents can hear what we are doing while staying safely apart. I think that for at least the next 12 to 18 months, this is what things will look like.”

Dr. Joann Buonomano is chief medical officer for Greater Seacoast Community Health, which includes Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth, and Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester. Buonomano said televisits by phone or video will be one enduring benefit of this pandemic.

“At Greater Seacoast, we now offer telehealth for medical care, behavioral health counseling and even dental care,” she said. “Telemedicine has been on the cutting edge for the past five years. This pandemic has turned it into a mainstay reality. Until recently, health care providers could rarely bill for phone or video visits. As of March, telehealth visits are now covered by Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance.”

Buonomano said patients and providers expect telehealth services will continue and Greater Seacoast is making changes in its offices to accommodate it for years to come.

“For patients, telemedicine offers greater convenience, allowing them to maintain a relationship with their primary care provider in their own home, where they are more comfortable,” she said. “It also breaks down transportation barriers and reduces the amount of time the patient has to take from their busy schedule for the visit.”

Buonomano said phone and video visits put the provider and patient on a more equal level, which supports an enduring relationship and more relaxed, open communication. Telemedicine, including tele-behavioral health counseling, can also help patients and their families overcome obstacles to receiving care related to severe social phobias, trauma and anxiety.

“These health problems can often be triggered when entering into a medical office,” she said.

Buonomano said GSCH now offers drive-by pharmacy pickup and an organized respiratory clinic. She said it plans to offer drive-by nursing assessments to assist with quick point-of-care rapid blood testing needed for following the progress of diabetic patients, following a televisit.

Exeter Health Resources’ operating affiliates, Exeter Hospital, Core Physicians and Rockingham VNA & Hospice, have provided care throughout the COVID-19 crisis and adapted programs and services to ensure the safety of patients and staff, said Deb Vasapolli, communications director at Exeter Hospital.

“We will continue to adhere to our social distancing and universal mask policies,” Vasapolli said. “We will ensure we have adequate supplies, including personal protective equipment; clear processes for screening and/or testing patients for the virus; enough space in clinical areas to adhere to social distancing guidelines; and procedures for thorough cleaning and disinfection.

“Telehealth appointments will continue to be offered when appropriate for a patient’s care but as our offices re-open, we are ensuring we are ready and safe to care for patients when they come in.”

Dawn Fernald, director of communications at Wentworth-Douglass, said they are focusing on a new experience for patients and staff as they enter their facilities.

“We are still in the midst of re-opening services, but patients should expect a change with respect to safety and infection prevention protocols,” Fernald said. “This is a new normal for all of us and is ever-evolving. We are adapting services and processes to include infection prevention parameters in both public areas and behind the scenes.”

Dr. Travis Harker, chief medical officer for the Appledore Medical Group, with offices in Portsmouth, Rochester and Derry, said telehealth will likely remain as a patient option when appropriate.

“We need to actively demonstrate to patients that our offices are safe to come to,” Harker said. “We started precautions in August, in anticipation of flu season so we had a jump up when the coronavirus appeared. We were already requiring patients to wear a mask when they came in. We were already diligently wiping down surfaces.”

When COVID-19 emerged, about 80% of patient visits were through telehealth. Harker said once people became more comfortable with the message that the doctors’ offices were safe, that percentage swung the other way.

“Now 80% of visits are in the office, with 20% done through phone or video calls,” he said. “We definitely see a use for it and so do our patients. My only concern with using it in the future is that insurance companies need to maintain reimbursements. If providers lose money, they may not be able to keep using telemedicine.”

Dr. Thomas Wold, chief medical officer at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, said COVID-19 will change things forever.

“The constant unknowns we saw and the constant new information made us all struggle to keep adapting,” Wold said. “In the end, a lot of basic things we already do like good hand hygiene and cleaning common surfaces like doorknobs and counters proved to be most important, for basic infection control.”

Wold said the task moving forward is assuring patients they are coming into a welcoming and safe environment as more services reopen.

Wold said the threat of COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon so universal precautions like screening patients and wearing masks are here to stay.

“We have redesigned the wait room,” he said. “High-touch risks, like vending machines, magazines and toys in the wait rooms are gone. We will continue to do our service desks differently, with barriers between people.”

Wold said telemedicine is here to stay for several reasons.

“We have learned that many visits can be done this way,” he said. “The other perk is that it reduces our need for PPE. My only lament is the loss of patient contact, something we need to balance going forward.”

Baby doctor visits must go on during pandemic

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PORTSMOUTH – In the first two -years of life, a baby sees the pediatrician 11 times, for well-baby visits and scheduled immunizations.

Baby visits are important for the child’s health and should continue even as people navigate the COVID-19 pandemic say Seacoast-region medical professionals, who have taken great pains to make sure the littlest ones, and their parents will be safe.

Dr. Nettie Colella, a pediatrician with Greater Seacoast Community Health sees patients at both Families First in Portsmouth and Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester. There are also pediatricians seeing children at Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, the third arm of GSCH.

Colella said pediatricians are worried about the widespread interruption of immunization schedules, possibly happening because parents are afraid to bring kids in because of the risk of infection from the coronavirus.

There are potential outbreaks without immunizations,” said Colella. “Whooping cough, meningitis and measles, can be far more dangerous to children than COVID-19. In 2019, we saw an outbreak pf measles. There were 1,200 cases in the US, with 120 hospitalization and 60 cases with serious complications. In a country where we were declared measles free in 2000, this was a frightening situation.”

Colella said there are procedures in place to keep children needing care safe.

“For example, I am not seeing as many patients in my office as I would have during normal operations,” said Colella. “I use telehealth, but I need to see my most vulnerable populations and that strongly includes infants and young children.

“I worry about losing contact with the children as we might be the only adult beside a parent they are seeing right now. They are not in school and we need to be a second set of eyes on them. They are in social isolation. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school, She has lost athletics. She is not going to have a prom, a graduation. She is already worried about college. I want to be someone my patients can talk to about how they are feeling.”

Colella said GSCH has behavioral health and social workers on staff to help with any mental health or family issues they identify. She said it is important to assure a patient is not neglecting their mental health because of the isolation and is taking their prescribed medication.

Colella said video visits can be used to help manage diabetes, to care for children with ADHD and help with sleep issues. She said that some follow ups for chronic conditions is possible through telehealth.

“But for those first two years, seeing them in person is so important,” said Colella. “During well baby visits, we inspect their growth and development. We talk with the parents about nutrition and sleep patterns. We can talk anticipatory, what to expect as the baby grows. We get the opportunity to check in on the entire family, for issues like postpartum depression. It really does take a village to raise a baby right.”

Most important is keeping the child on a well-organized schedule of childhood immunizations.

“Immunization are given to children at set intervals,” said Colella. “Keeping to the schedule provides the best protection for the child.”

Children are given primary immunizations in the first 30-45 days of their life. They need the measles and chicken pox shot between the age of four and five, and a booster for it at age 11, when they will also get the primary meningitis immunization and HPV vaccine.

“It’s so important to emphasize the importance of getting our patients in,” said Colella. “I am so impressed with how quickly GSCH responded to the COVID-19 needs. We have a really good operations team for all our locations and plans were put into place to make all of our services safe for staff and patients.”

Patients and staff are screened, for temperature, cough, and any signs of respiratory ailment before entering any of the three locations.

“We have a tent set up outside for screening and if you come without a mask, we will give you one,” said Colella. “Patients are sent in one at a time and go directly to a patient room. People should come if they normally would. Do not decide that because Johnny has a cut, you can take care of it. In a week, if it is infected, the care is more difficult. We can look at it, even over the phone and advise you.”

GSCH changed the hours of operations for the clinics, and staggered visits for clinicians and patients, so there are not a lot of people in any office at any time. Colella said they are using telehealth whenever possible. Masks are being used by everyone in the buildings. Colella said they have a high-risk respiratory clinic set up at specific times, and low-risk patients are not scheduled at that time.

“I prefer video visits when I do telehealth,” said Colella. “I find it helpful to be able to see my kids and their parents. I can work with a family where the son is having trouble sleeping. We can talk about nutrition and we can do good quality follow up to previous visits. We can make sure they are keeping up with needed medications. Some people do not have the capability to do live feeds and we can do telephone visits if we need to. Being able to do that frees up protected spaces in the offices to see patients.

“The other important thing I think should be mentioned is that patients without a primary care doctor should not avoid seeking healthcare due to pandemic. GSCH (Families First, Goodwin Community Health and Lilac City Pediatrics) are all accepting new patients and new patient appointments can be via telehealth. It is so important to address all medical and behavioral needs at this time.”

Colella said that recommendations on booking in office appointments are changing rapidly as the state starts to liberalize stay at home orders and patients should call the office, where appointment will be scheduled as appropriate based on the child’s age and medical needs.

To make an appointment, call Families First at 603-422-8208, Lilac City Pediatrics at 603-335-4522, or Goodwin Community Health at 603-749-2346.

Salute to Nurses: Community nursing at Greater Seacoast Community Health

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PORTSMOUTH – Community nursing is a special calling, and often serves a region’s most underprivileged, uninsured, and low-income populations.

Greater Seacoast Community Health is a collaboration between Families First, Goodwin Health and Lilac City Pediatrics. SOS Recovery Services also works through GSCH.

Coreen Toussaint, RN, is the nurse clinical leader at Goodwin Health, and has been working there for eight years.

“I manage the day-to-day clinical practices for the nurses, the medical assistants and primary care,” said Toussaint. “I also have training in prenatal care, and I help with our school-based clinics. We offer a wide variety of services and that is what I like about community nursing. There is always something new to offer, to learn.”

Community nursing is so much more than a visit to a doctor. Toussaint said they help their patients with transportation and with finding the funding they need for the services they need.

“It is the most rewarding thing I have done with my career,” said Toussaint. “We work directly with the doctors and the patients. In 2016, when we started doing medical assisted treatment for substance abuse cases, I was the initial nurse with the program. I love that we do that.”

Sally Vanderploeg, RN, is trained to do medically assisted treatment (MAT) for substance abuse. She said community nursing is a calling for her and she cannot imagine doing anything else.

“My primary area is to work with the homeless health care program,” said Vanderploeg, who works out of Families First in Portsmouth. “I was originally a labor and delivery nurse and when I decided the hospital setting wasn’t for me, I went back to nursing school. I did my clinicals at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and I fell in love. I really love the patients we have. We get to know them, and I will take care of them whether they have insurance or not. When I was first in Boston, I was told not to talk to the homeless, not to give them money. I think they come to us in a safe setting, with a level of trust and I see them as real people, not a statistic.”

Vanderploeg is a classically trained musician and said she used to go into shelters in the Boston area and play for the people there.

Vanderploeg’s job relied heavily on a couple of vans that traveled into the neighborhoods she serves. She said that is not happening at the moment because of COVID-19, but she is doing her best to keep up through telehealth and video calls.

“Not everyone I serve has internet access, or even a computer,” said Vanderploeg. “We are doing what we can until we can get fully back to work. Most people do not get the opportunity to talk with this population, but you can learn about lives and help them. I think I grow from that and I can’t wait to get back to normal operations.”

The COVID-19 epidemic is challenging to a community health practice. Toussaint said the doctors are doing more telemedicine for primary and behavioral health, but the nurses are still seeing patients.

“Especially with our most vulnerable patients, we need to be here,” said Toussaint. “We can do some education and we can give lab results by phone, but these people often just need to be seen, and we will always be here for them.”

Vanderploeg said her patients receive primary care, prenatal, dental, substance use disorder treatment and other services they would not have without community nursing. She said she is empowered to help them and that is definitely her calling.

Medication assisted recovery program sets up mobile site in Dover

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DOVER — Area providers and recovery organizations are teaming up to provide mobile medication assisted recovery services in Dover to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goodwin Community Health, Families First Health and Support Center and SOS Recovery Community Organization are offering the pilot mobile MAR program from 1 to 3 p.m. every Wednesday in the Dover Transportation Center lot at 33 Chestnut St.

The organizations, which comprise Greater Seacoast Community Health, note the location could move in the future.

The program started last week. It is intended to help “individuals in our community with substance use disorder and who are experiencing unstable housing and lack of access to resources during this COVID-19 era,” SOS wrote in a release.

“The goal of this initiative is to increase access to MAR services to those in our community who are most vulnerable and the least likely to access traditional office based services, especially during this time of a nationwide pandemic,” SOS wrote. “Many services in Strafford and Rockingham County for those individuals seeking recovery have been reduced due to COVID-19. Following COAST bus closures and many other changes in services in other organizations, we have decided to expand our services to a mobile setting.”

In order to access MAR services, patients will need to be either existing patients of GSCH, or be willing to become a primary care patient at GSCH.

The only medication that will be dispensed at the mobile site will be Naloxone, SOS wrote in the release.

“We will provide prescriptions that get called in locally to a pharmacy for individuals,” SOS wrote. “We plan to give only 7 day prescriptions with the plan for the patient to return weekly to the location (or in some cases arrange a telehealth visit) so as to minimize diversion issues while still providing both withdrawal management and connection to peer-recovery services.”

SOS wrote in the release patients seeking treatment for substance use disorder within the standard office-based system often encounter barriers such as stigma and behavioral health challenges making them fearful of traditional medical settings, and prolonged intake processes, which increase the risk of continued substance use and premature death.

“A Patient-centered, community based, rapid access approach prioritizes timely access to medications, reduces unnecessary use of resources, and improves effectiveness of care. This approach expands on a ‘low threshold’, harm reduction, model,” SOS wrote. “It focuses on meeting patients ‘where they are’, including them in the treatment plan, developing shared goals of care, and connecting them with primary care, behavioral health, community resources and recovery supports.”

SOS will use its Ford Transit van to transport supplies and anchor a staging area with portable canopy tents at the Dover Transportation Center.

Patient privacy will be provided using the portable canopy tents and portable sound machines.

City police, fire and emergency preparedness officials have been notified and provided permission, according to SOS.

“We are grateful for their support and understanding,” wrote SOS, which provides peer-based recovery support services at its centers in Dover, Rochester and Hampton. “The City of Dover continues to be a leader in responding to and understanding the need to allow proactive measures such as this, we hope other cities and towns will follow that lead.”

The mobile location will be staffed with peer recovery workers who are certified recovery support workers (CRSWs) from SOS, and a clinical support staff member (either a registered nurse or medical assistant) from Greater Seacoast Community Health, who will collaborate on the patient intake.

“These staff will meet with patients on a first come, first served schedule,” SOS wrote. “Staff will transport a wifi hotspot and computer tablets with them, and these tablets will be utilized to connect the patients with an off-site provider who will conduct the provider portion of the visit by telehealth, and be able to prescribe buprenorphine and/or withdrawal medication as needed, and if deemed appropriate.”

Behavioral health providers will also be accessible by telehealth for a warm handoff or consult if needed, according to SOS. Peer recovery support services will be offered on-site as well.

SOS wrote that everyone involved in the program is “proud of our ability to provide this critical service.”

“This project has been supported by leadership of Greater Seacoast Community Health, our providers and our staff,” SOS wrote. “Access to appropriate and adequate healthcare is critical to our community. We are excited and thankful that as an organization, we are able to think outside the box to serve the most vulnerable and marginalized who are struggling right now. We hope this will help reduce overdose rates in our region, and provide opportunity for recovery and improved public health and wellness.”

Additional treatment options and resources can be found at nhtreatment.org.

 

Read the full article on Fosters.com

NH DHHS Accepting Applications from Child Care Providers Seeking Emergency Program Designation

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is now accepting applications from child care providers seeking designation as emergency child care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) and child care stakeholders, DHHS has committed $4 million in federal funding to establish the Emergency Child Care Collaborative, a public-private partnership that will ensure a robust and effective system of emergency child care for New Hampshire parents providing essential services during COVID-19.

Child care programs will be eligible to apply for incentive payments, including funding to support pay differentials for staff, child care costs for child care professionals, and other operating costs to support an emergency child care system. The Emergency Child Care Collaborative will hold a webinar for providers on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, from 6 – 7 p.m. to answer provider questions.      

“We recognize that child care for essential workers is a vital part of the State’s response to COVID-19, and we are committed to supporting New Hampshire families during this public health crisis,” said DHHS Associate Commissioner Christine Tappan. “This additional funding from the federal Child Care Development Fund will put resources directly into the hands of our child care programs to support operations, staff, and parents.”

“New Hampshire Charitable Foundation looks forward to partnering with DHHS, DOE and early childhood stakeholders to support the state’s emergency child care system for essential workers,” said Christina Lachance, Director of Early Childhood and Family Initiatives for NHCF. “We know child care is critical to New Hampshire’s COVID 19 response efforts and we are grateful to child care professionals who are committed to serving children and families during this uncertain time.”

On March 26, Governor Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order #17, which mandated the closure of all non-essential businesses and required Granite Staters to stay at home until May 4, 2020. The order included a list of designated business sectors that provide essential services and support to COVID-19 and the core missions of the State.

To access the webinar or to submit an application, please visit Child Care Aware of NH.  For questions about the program, email ECCP@dhhs.gov. For more information on COVID-19, please visit www.nh.gov/covid19.

NH DHHS Announces WIC Appointments Available By Phone

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) today announced that in light of recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention around social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Hampshire Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program has received authorization from the US Department of Agriculture to conduct all appointments by phone.

Individuals can apply for assistance by contacting their local WIC office, and can find the office closest to them at http://www.signupwic.com. All appointment types, including certifications and follow up appointments, can be completed by phone. Residents who have a scheduled WIC appointment should keep it and expect a phone call from their local WIC office.

The WIC program provides nutrition education and support to help keep pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and preschool children healthy and strong, and all New Hampshire WIC offices are working to ensure that clients continue to get the services they need with minimal disruption.

To learn more about the WIC program, please visit https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/wic/index.htm. Families having difficulty getting through to their local WIC office are encouraged to leave a detailed voice message or call the WIC State Agency 1-800-942-4321.

Community organizations collaborate to feed area children as schools close due to COVID19

MARCH 18, 2020 – Area nonprofit and community organizers are working together to ensure that children are fed as schools close across Strafford County and the rest of the country due to the coronavirus outbreak. For students that rely on the meals they receive throughout the school day to combat food-insecurity, school closure often means, those children do not eat.

 

A current list of who is providing food, a list of area food pantries, school district meal plans, churches and other organizations in the area who are modifying how they are feeding kids, seniors, homeless and others in need can be found at https://straffordcap.org/covid-19-meals/

 

Also at risk are seniors who are considered high-risk of developing severe complications if exposed to COVID-19 according to the CDC. For older people who are also low-income or homebound, ensuring they have access to food without putting them at greater risk is paramount.

 

Organizations including Community Action Partnership of Strafford County (CAPSC), Region 6 IDN, End 68 Hours of Hunger, Gather, City Welfare, area Food Pantries, School Districts and Churches, have come together to document who needs food, where they are and how they will be fed.

 

Local food providers need more resources and are to working together to keep people fed, but also safe and healthy. If people want to help, please make a monetary donation to your local food program so that they can purchase food in bulk from vendors and distributors or give gift cards to help clients buy milk, eggs, and other proteins.  Specific requests can be found on local program social media and websites.

 

This list will be updated every Tuesday. Please check back on the website for updates.


Strafford County Public Health Network

Letter to our patients: COVID-19

Letter to our patients: COVID-19

This message was sent by email and text message to our patients on March 18, 2020. For updated info, see FamiliesFirstSeacoast.org and GoodwinCH.org.


During this challenging time of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, we at Greater Seacoast Community Health are making some temporary changes to keep our patients, staff and community safer. Please read on to learn what to do if you are feeling ill and what to expect when you call or visit us.

Before you come to the health center

The coronavirus spreads very easily. So, please call us before you come in for an appointment or standby care if you have any of these symptoms or risk factors:

  • Cough AND a fever of 100.4 or higher
  • OR have shortness of breath
  • OR have been someplace where the coronavirus is widespread in the past two weeks
  • OR have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Calling ahead will allow us to plan for your arrival and evaluation in a safe and private way. When you call, we will ask you about your symptoms and exposure. If it seems unlikely that you have COVID-19, we will schedule your appointment as usual. If we think you may have COVID-19 we will work with you on a plan for your care and possible testing.


When you come for an appointment

  • Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time so we can ask you a few questions about symptoms and travel and exposure risks. (At Families First and Goodwin, this screening will happen in tents outside our entrances.)
  • Please don’t bring others with you unless you really need to.
  • If you take the COAST Trolley to Families First, ask the driver to let you off at the new stop right outside Families First.

For patients over age 50 who have a chronic illness

If you are scheduled for a routine wellness check, you may be getting a call from one of our nurses or providers to check in on you and ensure that your medical needs are being met during this time when “social isolation” is recommended. We will talk with you about options for rescheduling your appointment time as well.


Reduced hours

Effective Thursday, March 19th, Goodwin Community Health and Families First will no longer have evening or weekend hours.  Our operating hours are now Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. As always, you can call us anytime, 24/7, to be connected with a nurse.


What’s happening with our other services?

Still being offered, but with changes:

  •  Dental Care: We are now offering emergency care only. If you have an appointment for non-urgent care, we will call you to reschedule it.
  • Mobile health care (vans): We are still holding these clinics (except at St. Vincent de Paul in Exeter on Wednesdays). This could change, so please call 603-766-9220 to check before coming to a clinic. Please call that same number before coming to the clinic if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. (Note: There is no dental care offered at these clinics.)

 Being offered by phone, video or online.

  • Home visits: Call your home visitor to schedule a phone visit: 603-422-8209.
  • SOS Recovery Services: While the centers are closed, we’ll have phone coverage, telephone recovery support services, virtual on-on-one recovery coaching, and virtual meetings and supports. Call 603-841-2350 or visit https://sosrco.org/virtualmeetings/  You can also access daily online recovery-support meetings offered through Unity Recovery here.
  • WIC and CSFP: Call 603-332-4358 for information.

Not being offered right now:

  • Acupuncture
  • Parenting classes, playgroups and family group programs. Ask to join our new, private Facebook group to help parents connect: Facebook.com/groups/GSCHParents
  • Child care during appointments at Families First.

If you have questions about our services

Visit FamiliesFirstSeacoast.org or GoodwinCH.org or call us at:

  • Families First: 603-422-8208
  • Goodwin Community Health: 603-749-2346
  • Lilac City Pediatrics: 603-335-4522

Reliable sources of info about COVID-19

With best wishes for your good health,

Joann Buonomano, MD                      Janet Laatsch
Chief Medical Officer                         Chief Executive Officer

Unity Recovery, WEconnect Health, Alano Club of Portland, & SOS Recovery Offering Free Online Substance Use and Mental Health Support during COVID-19

Unity Recovery, WEconnect Health, Alano Club of Portland, & SOS Recovery Offering Free Online Substance Use and Mental Health Support during COVID-19

Virtual support groups, led by peer and family recovery specialists, occurring daily

Philadelphia—Individuals and family members dealing with substance use, mental health, disordered eating, and other behavioral health disorders will be able to participate in free online recovery support meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unity Recovery, a non-profit recovery community organization in Philadelphia, WEconnect Health, an evidence-based digital app based in Seattle, Alano Club of Portland and SOS Recovery, recovery support providers, are providing the daily service since public health officials have urged people to avoid gatherings or have shut down cities due to the pandemic. The daily online recovery support meetings are available immediately and are led by certified peer who are in recovery themselves.

To attend a meeting or learn more, individuals and family members can visit:
https://unityrecovery.org/digital-recovery-meetings

In just the last 72 hours, more than 2,000 individuals from 50 states and 10 countries have participated in the meetings which run at 9AM, 12PM, 3PM, 6PM, 8PM. and 9PM EST. “As recovery meetings have continued to close around the country and world, the need for connection and ongoing mutual aid is larger than ever”, said Robert Ashford, person in recovery and Unity Recovery Executive Director, “people are connecting in creative ways and maintaining their recovery in the most trying of times.” “The need for support doesn’t go away during this time. It only grows as people socially distance and there aren’t any options for those in or seeking recovery to get the support they need,” said WEconnect Health cofounder and CEO Daniela Tudor, who is in recovery herself. “Family members and loved ones need just as much support as individuals during this time, and being able to offer both types of recovery meetings is so important,” said Brent Canode, Executive Director of the Alano Club of Portland.

As of 2019, there are more than 66,000 12-step meetings in the U.S. alone and thousands of similar type of support groups. Particularly for those new in recovery and just leaving treatment, having no access to recovery meetings or therapy during this time exponentially increases the likelihood of recurrence of substance use, overdose and even death.


ABOUT Unity Recovery
Unity Recovery is a community-based, non-profit recovery community organization based in Philadelphia. At Unity Recovery, we partner with the entire community to bring comprehensive community-based recovery support to those that need them – from recovery meetings, peer recovery specialists, education and vocational training. As a hybrid recovery community organization, we support individuals in all types of recovery utilizing various pathways, all for no fees and no strings.


ABOUT WEconnect Health
WEconnect Health provides the most effective digital solution for substance use. Cofounded by Daniela Tudor and French Open Tennis champion Murphy Jensen, both in recovery, they have made it their mission to save lives, provide accurate outcomes data, and support healthcare ecosystems, communities and families.


ABOUT SOS Recovery Community Organization
SOS Recovery Community Organization is a recovery community organization based in
Somersworth, NH with recovery community centers in Dover, Rochester and Hampton, NH.
The mission of SOS Recovery Community Organization is to reduce stigma and harm associated with substance use and misuse by providing safe space and peer based supports for people in all stages of recovery. SOS is a program of Greater Seacoast Community Health is a 501c3 non-profit federally qualified health center.