Families First Health and Support Center in Portsmouth, NH
Families First Health and Support Center is an independent, nonprofit community health center whose mission is to contribute to the health and well-being of the Seacoast community by providing a broad range of health and family services to all, regardless of ability to pay.
Families First, located at the Community Campus in Portsmouth, was founded in 1984 as the Portsmouth Prenatal Clinic to meet the need for affordable prenatal care for low-income women and teens. Originally part of Portsmouth Hospital, the clinic became an independent nonprofit agency in 1986.
Since that time, Families First has added many other services, always in response to community needs identified by coalitions of community organizations. Families First believes its “one-stop-shopping” model —integrating many services under one roof — is the best way to serve a population facing many stresses with few financial or other resources.
Current programs and services, along with the year each began operating are:
- 1984: Prenatal Care for low-income women and teens (186 served in FY 2009).
- 1988: Family Support, including parenting classes, support groups, family programs, children’s programs and individualized, in-home support for families facing challenges (1,142 served).
- 1997: Primary Care for children and adults of all ages (3,674 served)
- 2002: Mobile Health Care for the Homeless (561 served)
- 2003: On-site Dental Center (1,494 served)
- 2008: Behavioral health care integrated with primary care (147 served)
All of these programs include many supports targeted to low-income clients, such as social service coordination, assistance applying for benefits, and child care and transportation to make it easier for clients to utilize our services. Families First serves more than 5,000 people each year.
Community health centers generally are known for their comprehensiveness: In addition to providing the same services found in private primary care and ob/gyn offices, most also provide care coordination, medication assistance, disease management programs, substance abuse and mental health and nutrition counseling. They are true “medical homes” – a model that is increasingly being touted in discussions of national health care reform. Families First has taken this comprehensive model even further than most community health centers in the region. Very few other community health centers in New Hampshire offer dental care, mobile health care for the homeless or family support — and none besides Families First offers all three. Families First has been recognized with statewide awards, including the Dunfey Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.
"About 5 years ago friend told me Families First was offering a free men's health screening. I hadn't seen a doctor in decades; I thought I was basically healthy but carrying extra weight. They found that I had a lipid problem and type II diabetes. Families First is now my medical home. They have treated me well, and my conditions are now under control.
I also volunteer at Families First as a child care provider, facilitator of their Grandparents Group, and member of their Board of Directors. As a Board member I learn about Families First's many programs, the quality of service provided, and the donors that make it all possible. Among our donors, Portsmouth Regional Hospital has been one of the most generous and loyal for decades. As a Families First patient and as Board member, I really value their support." -- Jack Jamison