ROCHESTER — Lilac City Pediatrics will merge with Greater Seacoast Community Health on Aug. 1, which the popular children’s practice says will allow them to increase the level of mental health and behavioral health services available in the Rochester area.
Dr. Walter Hoerman opened Lilac City Pediatrics in 1996. Since then, Hoerman said he’s seen the need for mental health and other support services skyrocket. Being able to better address that need is what excites Hoerman the most about integrating his practice into the nonprofit Greater Seacoast Community Health’s network.
“By doing this, I’ll have a lot more resources,” said Hoerman. “It’s been a very busy practice and it’s been a very successful 22 years, but in our local market insurance… is becoming terrible. We need to think of new models to do this.”
Greater Seacoast Community Health was formally created in January through the merger of two longtime Seacoast healthcare organizations, Goodwin Community Health of Somersworth and Families First Health & Support Center of Portsmouth.
Lilac City Pediatrics’ office, located at 180 Farmington Road in Rochester, will operate as the northern tip of the organization. Hoerman said he initiated the merger after he read news stories about Goodwin and Families First joining forces.
The merger is the latest in a growing healthcare trend as organizations throughout the region and country look to improve services while simultaneously reducing costs. Recently, both Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover and Exeter Hospital in Exeter affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital.
Greater Seacoast Community Health serves roughly 15,000 local adults and children across Families First’s facilities in Portsmouth and Seabrook, Goodwin’s Somersworth facility and Goodwin’s five mobile health clinics, according to CEO Janet Laatsch. Many of those receiving services are uninsured, underinsured or lacking access to affordable, quality healthcare.
Laatsch said adding Lilac City to the fold will expand their reach and their overall pediatric services, as well as save costs because Greater Seacoast Community Health has been referring out certain pediatric services. She said adding Lilac City also complements the organization’s investment in increasing mental health and substance use disorder services in an area in which many patients have dual diagnoses.
“The big thing is it’s really all about covered lives,” she said. “It sort of normalizes the bell curve. All practices have outliers who have a lot of chronic diseases, which are more expensive to care for. This way, we have more quality outcomes with more pediatrics into our practices.”
The merger also allows Lilac City Pediatrics to become a federally qualified health center, which opens up grant opportunities. Hoerman said those grants will be used to hire several mental health providers in the coming months. A Greater Seacoast Community Health behavioral health specialist will also be moved into Lilac City Pediatrics’ office.
“Lilac City Pediatrics will continue to function just as it does, but we’ll be able to add a bunch more stuff,” he said.