Strafford County Addiction Summit to focus on trauma-informed communities

SOMERSWORTH — The Strafford County Public Health Network’s 2019 Strafford County Addiction Summit will take place Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s Garrison Wing. The theme of this year’s event is Building Trauma-Informed Communities.

The summit aims to educate and provide community members with the knowledge, skills and tools to address challenges such as adverse childhood experiences (ACE) by utilizing trauma-informed care (TIC) principles in their everyday lives and work. By hearing concrete examples, learning about funding opportunities, and listening to experts across fields, attendees will learn how to cultivate resilient communities that are built on a foundation of trauma-informed care.

Attendees can expect to gain valuable insight on the core principles of trauma-informed care, practices that can be utilized in the workplace, enhancing communication skills, and how to apply trauma-informed best practices into your life.

The keynote addresses include ACES in Action: Building Trauma-Informed Communities by Dr. Larry McCullough, executive director and founder of Pinetree Institute, and Tomorrow’s Funding by Tym Rourke, director of New Hampshire Tomorrow with the NH Charitable Foundation. The event will also include six breakout sessions and a panel of experts discussing “Examples of Trauma-Informed Work in Our Communities.”

There is a $20 registration fee per person. The event includes breakfast and lunch. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify, please contact SCPHN for more information. Continuing education credits are available.

This is the eighth annual Addiction Summit coordinated by the Strafford County Public Health Network. This event is coordinated with support from Greater Seacoast Community Health, Dover Coalition for Youth, the Pinetree Institute and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. More information can be found at or by contacting or (603) 994-6357.


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Rochester property owners urged to attend free lead removal seminar


ROCHESTER, November6, 2019 – The City of Rochester and the Strafford County Public Health Network are hosting a free educational program for property owners and managers in Rochester whose properties may contain lead.  Residents owning property built before 1978 are strongly encouraged to attend this free program and dinner at the new Mitchell Hill BBQ, 50 North Main Street, Rochester, at 5:30pm on Tuesday, November 12.

Attendees will hear from NH state experts, Gail Gettens and Ross Malcolm from the NH of Division of Public Health Services on the dangers of lead as well as financial programs that will assist with removing lead. Attendees will learn about new laws like the one passed in 2018 in New Hampshire passed requiring providers to conduct blood lead level tests for all 1 and 2 year olds.  It will also connect attendees with resources and information on things property managers and homeowners can do to test their homes for lead that may exist in interior paint, exterior paint and their water.

“In 2017 652 NH children were poisoned by lead.  Lead is a toxic poison. It can slow growth and impair brain development, especially among children; the effects can be permanent and continue into adulthood. One of the most common source of lead exposure for children is lead paint and lead−contaminated dust in older homes, said Ashley Desrochers, Prevention Coordinator, Strafford County Public Health Network.  “It only takes a speck of lead dust the size of a grain of salt to poison a child. We are working with some of NH’s highest risk communities so that we can prevent further lead poisoning in our children.”

The Strafford County Public Health Network, whose mission is to improve the health of all the individuals in Strafford County, is seeking individuals interested in joining both its Rochester and Somersworth Lead Safety teams.  Anyone interested can contact Ashley Desrochers at 603-749-2346 x2579 or For more information about the free dinner and seminar, contact Julian Long at



Media Contact:  Lara Willard, 603-516-2558

Seacoast health centers earn quality awards

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Published by Seacoast Online 

SOMERSWORTH — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will award $137,250 to Greater Seacoast Community Health, a network of community health centers that includes Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth, Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, and Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester.

The award money recognizes achievements in clinical quality improvement, and the overall value of health care in the communities they serve. It is intended to help the health centers further advance in those areas.

The $137,250 award is based on the following achievements by Goodwin, Families First and Lilac City Pediatrics in 2018:

* ranking among the top 30% of all health centers nationwide in overall performance on clinical quality measures ($36,250)

* having Patient Centered Medical Home Recognition at both Families First and Goodwin Community Health ($35,000).

* meeting or exceeding the Healthy People 2020 goals, which are science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of Americans ($32,000). For example, to achieve goals around mental health and substance abuse, Greater Seacoast Community Health hired an additional nurse to enable more patients to receive Medication-Assisted Recovery services; hired an acupuncturist to provide a non-pharmaceutical, holistic approach to treating pain and depression in patients with substance use disorders; and hired additional mental health providers to be able to offer more “warm handoffs” of primary care patients to mental health providers at the point of care.

* demonstrating improvement of at least 15% on a clinical quality measure over the previous year ($19,000). For example, between 2017 and 2018, the health centers increased the percentage of teens and adults who are screened for depression from 75% to 86%, and the percentage of prenatal patients screened from 73% to 88%.

* increasing the number of patients served and the number of patients receiving comprehensive services ($10,000). One way Greater Seacoast did this was to begin sending a family nurse practitioner to Community Partners’ Rochester facility one day a week, in order to make primary care more accessible to patients with severe mental illness.

* using Health Information Technology to increase access to care and advance quality of care ($5,000).

Families First and Goodwin have received quality award money annually since the federal government began giving it in 2014. It is meant to be invested in increasing quality, efficiency and access to care at the health centers. In the past, the health centers have invested award money in technology upgrades, staffing and purchasing diagnostic equipment so that patients can get more services in one place.

Families First, Goodwin and Lilac City Pediatrics provide primary care, pediatrics, dental care, prenatal care, behavioral health counseling, substance use disorder treatment, mobile health services, WIC, social work services, a pharmacy, parenting classes, playgroups and home visiting. For more information, visit

The Health Resources and Services Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HRSA is the primary federal agency responsible for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit

New provider joins Families First, Goodwin health centers

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SOMERSWORTH – Family Nurse Practitioner Kelly Moore, APRN, NP-C, has joined Greater Seacoast Community Health. She will see children and adults at both Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth and Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth.

Before earning her Nurse Practitioner degree from the University of New Hampshire last spring, Moore worked for eight years as a registered nurse. Most of that time was spent in cardiac care at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and at Elliot Hospital in Manchester.

While studying for her nurse-practitioner degree, Moore did a five-month internship at Goodwin Community Health, working under Family Nurse Practitioner Paige Wilder, APRN NP-C.

Moore says she chose to work in a family practice because of her interest in preventive health and health promotion and in “looking at the patient as a whole across the lifespan.” She adds that she is happy to be working at Goodwin and Families First because “a community health center is not just primary care; patients can also get other services like dental and behavioral health care.”

Moore is board-certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

To become a patient of Kelly Moore, call (603) 749-2346 for Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth; call 603-422-8208 (press 3) for Families First in Portsmouth; or visit the Become a Patient section at or

Greater Seacoast Community Health is a network of community health centers providing primary care, pediatrics, dental care, prenatal care, behavioral health counseling, substance use disorder treatment, mobile health services, WIC, social work services, a pharmacy, parenting classes, playgroups and home visiting. The network includes Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth, Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, and Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester. The Strafford County Public Health Network and SOS Recovery Community Organization are also affiliated with Greater Seacoast. Services are open to everyone and aim to be respectful, recovery-friendly, LGBTQ-affirming and trauma-informed. For more information, visit

Michael Robustelli, ARNP

Michael Robustelli, ARNP
Family Practice


Michael is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner. Previously having been immersed in the financial world of NYC, he became disillusioned with the work. Determined to heal the brokenness around him, he returned to school where he completed his graduate studies at the University of New Hampshire.

He now works with under-served populations focusing on those affected by mental illness. Outside the office, he continues his healing mission through work with his church.


Abenaqui golfers give record-setting donation

RYE – When the Women’s Golf League at Abenaqui Country Club began donating a portion of proceeds from their annual Pink Day Tournament to help Families First Health and Support Center in 2011, the donation came to $1,800. This summer, the Pink Day group donated more than six times that amount – $10,960 – bringing the league’s total donations over eight years to $45,000. The money is designated to help Families First – and, now, its partner organization, Goodwin Community Health – to make breast exams and mammograms accessible to women who are uninsured or have health insurance with a high deductible.

In was 21 years ago that the Abenaqui Women’s Golf League began designating one day a year to raise funds for breast cancer programs, initially supporting national organizations. When league members and breast cancer survivors Laura Cannon and Jackie Stone took over the Pink Day Tournament in 2008, they asked the League Board to change the focus to supporting Seacoast nonprofits. Counting the $45,000 raised for Families First, the league has raised a total of $70,000 for local Seacoast nonprofits since 2008.

Another turning point came in 2016, when organizers expanded the tournament’s fundraising capacity by selling hole sponsorships to the entire Abenaqui membership rather than only women’s league members, and also challenging Men’s League teams to sponsor holes. “The membership and staff stepped up to the plate big time,” Cannon says. “This year we had more than 72 signs on the course the day of our tournament. We were a sea of women dressed in pink celebrating our cause.”

For information about the cancer screening services offered at Families First for uninsured and underinsured women, visit or call (603) 422-8208 (press 3).


Photo Caption:
Abenaqui Women’s League Tournament Chair Laura Cannon, second from left, recently presented Greater Seacoast Community Health with more than $11,000 raised through Abenaqui Country Club’s Pink Day golf tournament in late July. Accepting the donation were Greater Seacoast Community Health CEO Janet Laatsch, far left, and Barbara Henry and Valerie Goodwin, chair and vice chair of the GSCH Board of Directors.

Shaheen seeks $63B for drug, alcohol services

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Story by Kyle Stucker
Photos by Deb Cram

SOMERSWORTH — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and a roundtable of local stakeholders stressed Monday that a new $63 billion federal bill’s substance use disorder funds must be flexible so states like New Hampshire can best help their residents.

Shaheen, D-N.H., scheduled the discussion with medical providers, recovery experts and practitioners, municipal leaders and law enforcement officials at Goodwin Community Health. The meeting focused on how her new Turn the Tide Act should work to stem the Granite State’s substance misuse epidemic.

“Probably the No. 1 concern I’ve heard as I’ve traveled around is that we need things to be more flexible,” said Shaheen. “Making it fit with each community is what we need to do.”

Shaheen’s proposal would provide $63 billion nationally to address substance use disorder over the next 10 years.

It would increase annual State Opioid Response treatment grants from $1.5 billion to $5.5 billion over the first five years, as well as provide $27.5 billion over 10 years for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.

The latter gives states the ability to provide wraparound services related to opioids, alcohol, meth, cocaine and other substances commonly used in New Hampshire.

The bill would also increase prevention resources by, among other things, extending the term cap on the Drug Free Community grant program from two to five years.

It would also fund measures designed to reduce the types of adverse childhood trauma and experiences that lead to substance use. It proposes increased Medicaid payment rates to help increase the limited number of psychiatric medication providers in the state. It would use $50 million a year to provide student loan forgiveness to the treatment workforce. It would also improve first responder assistance and eliminate roadblocks like co-pays for naloxone and Narcan.

Some attendees spoke at length Monday about child trauma and the need to prevent creating another generation of people with substance use disorder challenges. The proposed bill would provide $20 million per year to implement a new grant program modeled after the successful Manchester Childhood Emergency Response Team to help child exposed to trauma, according to Shaheen.

“I think it’s very easy in situations like this for us to just be responsive in terms of the needs of the adults and getting their situations stabilized, but I’m telling you we’re missing an opportunity if we continue to not think about… the next generation,” said a Jessica Sugrue, chief executive officer of YWCA New Hampshire.

Others asked Shaheen to look into how the bill can support alternative treatments like Greater Seacoast Community Health’s new grant-funded acupuncture detoxification program.

“This is something we may need to look at,” said Shaheen.

Shaheen and others also said focus on alcohol resources and prevention is important because it’s often forgotten behind opioids despite alcoholism being more widespread.

Since The Doorway, New Hampshire’s new hub and spoke treatment model, debuted earlier this year, 50 percent of people seeking assistance have alcohol-related disorders, according to Shaheen.

While Shaheen said her proposed bill’s $63 billion in funding is a “drop in the bucket” compared to the actual costs of substance use disorder, she said she’s hopeful it will still make a positive difference for many of the nation’s struggling communities.

The full text of Shaheen’s Turn the Tide bill can be found at

New pediatrician comes to the Seacoast

July 12, 2019

PORTSMOUTH – Pediatrician Danette Colella will join Greater Seacoast Community Health in late July, dividing her time between Families First Health and Support Center in Portsmouth and Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester.

A pediatrician for the past 20 years, Dr. Colella has experience in general pediatrics and adolescent medicine. Her interests include preventive medicine and continuity of care from birth to young adulthood.

After graduating from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Dr. Colella completed her pediatric residency through Harvard Medical School at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center. She served as Chief of Pediatrics at South Shore Medical Center in Norwell, Mass., and most recently worked at a pediatric practice in Wisconsin before moving back to New England. She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Dr. Colella will see patients ages birth through 21. In addition to pediatric care, her patients will have access to many other professionals within the Greater Seacoast Community Health network, including dentists and hygienists, behavioral health care providers, social workers, a child development specialist, a nutritionist and the WIC nutrition program. St the Families First site, free child care is offered while parents are there for appointments or parenting classes. The organization also supports families through parenting classes, family programs and home visiting.

For information about becoming a patient of Dr. Colella at Families First in Portsmouth, call 603-422-8208 (press 3) or visit To establish care with her at Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester, call 603-335-4522.

Greater Seacoast Community Health is a network of community health centers providing primary care for children and adults, dental care, prenatal care, behavioral health counseling, substance use disorder treatment, mobile health services, social work services, a pharmacy, parenting classes, family programs, and home visiting. The network includes Families First Health & Support Center in Portsmouth, Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth, and Lilac City Pediatrics in Rochester. Strafford County Public Health Network and SOS Recovery Community Organization also are affiliated with Greater Seacoast, and the WIC nutrition program has a site at Goodwin. Services are open to everyone and provided within a culture that seeks to be respectful, recovery-friendly, LGBTQ-affirming and trauma-informed. For more information, visit

Acupuncture used to treat addiction and other ills

Acupuncture used to treat addiction and other ills

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PORTSMOUTH – Alternatives to opioids is something on everyone’s mind, given the current epidemic of abuse New Hampshire is facing and one agency is taking on the challenge.

Greater Seacoast Community Health, which represents a merger between Families First in Portsmouth and Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth is a “spoke” in the state’s Hub and Spoke initiative, intended to address the opioid crisis.

GSCH has received a $1.45 million SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) grant intended to enhance existing services and add new ones in efforts to address substance abuse and mental health services offered at both locations. The grant gives the agencies $502,729 in year one, and $476,172 in years two and three.

Acupuncture is part of the SAMHSA grant and acupuncturist Elizabeth Nelson has been hired for the service. It is not a standalone service but will complement the primary care and behavioral health services, according to Margie Wachtel, communication director for GSCH.

“In addition to SUD, some of the primary conditions that Liz will be addressing are chronic pain, stress and anxiety,” said Wachtel. “Liz’s position is funded by a grant we received recently (for the first time) from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, to expand our Medication-Assisted Recovery services.”

Nelson came to GSCH from work with veterans who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She said she was trained in the procedure at the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine in Florida and the Lincoln Recovery Center in the Bronx, New York.

Nelson uses NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) ear acupuncture on both groups.

“It works well on stress, on helping people get better sleep, and on decreasing the desire for substances like drugs, alcohol and even cigarettes,” said Nelson. “People with PTSD and substance abuse may have anger and anxiety. No one wants to be addicted. They can have social isolation issues. Acupuncture releases stress, emotional trauma and that makes it easier to make connections. They have better track records of staying in programs.”

Nelson does her work in groups. Her clients sit together for 45 minutes, with five needles in each ear. They can talk and listen to relaxing music.

“Some of the people are afraid of needles, so we sometimes call them pins,” said Nelson.

So how does it work?

“Acupuncture releases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals,” said Nelson. “Drugs are chemicals released into the body. When a person stops using, they can feel sluggish and tired. Acupuncture gives them a euphoric feeling and has been around since the 1970s as a treatment for addiction. It is used in some states in drug courts, in prisons. I am happy to have the opportunity to bring this here. I truly believe in the success of the treatments. I have seen it in my patients. I love that it is holistic, that it doesn’t involve hooking people on another drug.”

Beth Pearson, project director for the grant, said it has specific goals.

“The programs we are enhancing existed before the grant,” said Pearson “The grant will help us to increase services and outreach, and to enhance what is already in place.”

Pearson said acupuncture was added and approved after the grant had already been approved.

“We were looking at acupuncture as an alternative treatment for substance abuse disorders,” said Pearson. “We know a lot of our clients got involved with opioids because they had chronic pain issues. Acupuncture can help treat both conditions, so it was an easy choice and SAMHSA approved the addition to the grant specifics.”

The grant also supports the work of SOS Recovery Services, which is a part of GSCH. Pearson said it will help fund things like recovery coach training.

“And people who are in our IOP (Intensive Outpatient program) will also be offered the acupuncture service,” said Pearson. “We are excited about this. Not many others are yet offering acupuncture for SUD treatment. Eventually we hope to add a physical therapist, but we have not hired one yet. We plan to track the outcomes to see how effective this new treatment will be.”

Nelson, LAC, RN, is a licensed Acupuncturist and a board-certified Diplomate of Acupuncture through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is a certified Acupuncture Detox Specialist through the National Acupuncture Detox Association. She has practiced acupuncture since 2004, including volunteering her skills to help victims of natural disasters and shootings.

The acupuncture service is currently only available for patients who also come to Goodwin Community Health or Families First for primary care and/or recovery services. Currently (for space reasons), the treatment is only offered at the Somersworth location (Goodwin), but it is open to Families First patients.