Smooth move into new Charlestown Health Center

CHARLESTOWN, N.H. – “Patient centered Medical Home,” the phrase describes the new Charlestown Health Center off Route 12, 250 CEDA Road in Charlestown, N.H. Staff who care and encourage wellness with access to technology to help in a building designed to promote efficient work flow, save energy, and allow more time for patient consults.

Walk in service starts July 17 but regularly scheduled patients enjoyed the new building as of Monday July 10. A state of the art X-ray machine is expected to be operational in early August.

At the grand ribbon cutting ceremony, John Olsen of Whelen Engineering explained the million-dollar contribution from Whelen towards the building. Whelen Engineering makes innovative life saving products designed, manufactured and assembled in the USA. Amber lights, EMS lights, mining lights, and aviation lights are some of the products. Olson recognized access to health care as a plus for Whelen staff, families, and the community.

Whelen’s contribution matched a million dollar grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration. The new facility cost $2.6 million. Private donations from area businesses and individuals bridged the gap with fundraising ongoing for $200,000 more dollars. The Charlestown Health Center is part of the Springfield Medical Care System; a not-for-profit community based health care system with nine locations including the hospital in Springfield, Vt.

New in the last month as Director of Charlestown Health Center, Anila Hood praised her staff, “Friday we moved- everyone was prepared. All day we moved…wonderful staff, hard-working, everyone is so committed to customer care.”

Lori Twobly, Director of Primary Care Operations, says, “Now we focus on prevention, we focus on family.”

Specialists to help patients overcome addictions are part of the staff. Hood adds, “Support services in place matter. Unless that support is in place patients won’t thrive.”

Support can take the form of the Community Health Team offering wellness classes or cooking for diabetes. Twobly showed the kitchen that in future could hold classes. Transportation is an issue for some patients. Support may be a gas card to help patient afford the trips. Twobly explained a patient may ask for a care coordinator at the office number 603-826-5711.

The new facility has examining tables that lower and rise eliminating the need to climb up. Mark Blanchard noted the entire energy efficient building is on one floor with no steps to increase accessibility.

Tess Kuenning, CEO of Bi-State Primary Care Association, a Vermont-New Hampshire organization working on public policy spoke at the ceremony. She said 34 percent of patients are on Medicaid. She explained Bi-State as your voice in D.C., Montpelier, Vt. and Concord, N.H. Charlestown Health Center is a federally qualified health center which requires a community board of directors and the facility to offer comprehensive primary care including mental health services. The staff will treat patients regardless of ability to pay.

The Charlestown Health Center is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. Weekend coverage and past 5 p.m. coverage is new. The Health Access line for the entire Springfield Medical Care System is at 802-885-7605.

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