A recent visit to Goodwin Community Health in Somersworth provided gubernatorial candidate Jackie Cilley with a behind the scenes look at health care in New Hampshire.
As part of a listening tour on health care issues facing New Hampshire, Cilley accepted the invitation to hear the challenges faced by staff of the federally qualified health care center.
Cilley was introduced by Sandy Rose, a psychologist on staff with GCH, and someone who had worked with the former state senator on mental health legislation. Rose told the audience of approximately 20 employees, “Senator Cilley has an amazing capacity for absorbing information. We provided her with dozens of pages of information the night before a hearing and it is clear she read every line. She listens to all sides of an issue.”
Although she is a candidate for Governor of New Hampshire, Cilley told the group she was there to learn about their work, not to give campaign speeches. “You are on the front line of our health care delivery system,” Cilley told the group. “Your voices must help shape policy for our state.”
During her visit, Cilley was struck by the emotional stories of current workers and the patients they see every day.
“An example of what we’re facing,” said an intake worker, “is a woman who called this morning. After being treated at the local emergency room, she was told to do follow up with her doctor. She did not have a doctor and she had no health insurance.”
The patient was given an appointment to see one of Goodwin’s physicians. However, those in attendance agreed that one of the biggest challenges they face is the rising number of working, but uninsured, patients putting additional burdens on an already stressed financial position. Interestingly, the staffer who shared the story cannot afford health insurance herself and is currently not covered.
“These are the very folks for whom the current legislature has made it more difficult to get treatment,” said Cilley following the visit. “With fewer families able to participate in the lower cost Healthy Kids program - along with the new tax on our hospitals, which struggle to provide uncompensated care - increasing numbers of our citizens will be unable to get the health care they need.”
“The Republican majority in Concord has eliminated the minimum wage and is trying to remove insurance coverage for a wide range of needs, such as hearing aids and contraception. Actions such as those are making it far more difficult for our working families to receive the care they need to stay healthy,” Cilley went on to say. “It’s unacceptable that in one of the wealthiest states in the country we’re allowing too many of our workers to go without basic health care. That’s not good for our economy or for our standard of living. While those unable to afford health insurance will suffer the short-term consequences, we will all face the long-term costs of short-sighted policies.”
One of ten federally qualified health centers around New Hampshire, Goodwin serves as a model facility for New Hampshire and on the national level. With its focus on treating the whole person, Goodwin integrates dental and mental health care into primary care and also offers a wide range of nutrition and wellness services to patients. Goodwin provides health care for those with private insurance plans as well as the uninsured on a sliding fee scale, and patients on Medicare, Medicaid and Healthy Kids.
Cilley plans more visits with health care providers throughout New Hampshire.