Specialized preventive dental services for children are provided through a contract with private practice dentists and dental hygienists in the region who provide outreach services in conjunction with with local schools for first graders and third graders. A model approved by the Division of Public Health is used in this program. In our model, the dental hygienist has traveling dental hygiene equipment, and visits an individual school at a prearranged time, date, and place. She meets individually with children whose parents have given written permission for her to do an oral exam and provide individualized educational sessions with the children. A written report of the dental visit is sent to the parents to report any significant findings, and referral to local dentists is included, should it be necessary for additional treatment.
FRANKLIN, NH – Among the 3,500 people receiving primary health care services at Health First Family Health Center (Health First), the Community Health Center located in Franklin and Laconia, more than 30 percent have no health insurance and are ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare. Those patients depend on the sliding fee scale offered by Health First – and the health center’s ability to provide their care at a fraction of the cost. How that is possible, and will continue to be possible, was the topic of discussion with Congressman Charles Bass during his recent visit to Health First.
In the small conference room at Health First’s Franklin medical center, Rep. Bass, Rick Silverberg, executive director of Health First Family Care Center, and Tess Stack Kuenning, executive director of Bi-State Primary Care Association, focused their conversation on how to keep health care services affordable and accessible, especially for those without health insurance.
“Suddenly unemployed and uninsured, it’s a shock to discover you can no longer afford medical care for yourself or your family,” Silverberg said. Central New Hampshire was hard hit with job layoffs in the past few years. Silverberg measures the effect of the recession by the number of new patients he has; more than 1,000 in 2009 – most qualified for significantly reduced payments on the sliding fee scale based on income and family size. Ongoing, bipartisan support at the federal and state level is critical to keep the doors open at Community Health Centers.
“Community Health Centers were established 45 years ago so people can receive high quality health care regardless of insurance or financial circumstances,” Silverberg noted. “No one should jeopardize their health because they are embarrassed by their current circumstances. Financial arrangements with patients are made privately; clinicians and other staff are unaware of who has insurance and who doesn’t. Everyone is treated with the utmost care and respect.”
Congressman Bass expressed his support of the Community Health Center model of care; a position he has held for many years. “This is the model I like,” he said.
Health First Family Care Center is a nonprofit Community Health Center with offices in Franklin and Laconia. New patients are welcome. Call (603) 934-0177 for more information or to make an appointment.