AMOSKEAG HEALTH'S HISTORY
Our Pioneer for Underserved Children
Dr. Selma Deitch was fondly referred to as "The Matriarch of New Hampshire's Pediatricians." With a medical career spanning over five decades, she dedicated herself to improving the lives of families and their children while advocating for comprehensive, high-quality healthcare for all.
Dr. Deitch's journey began with her education at Tufts University Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. In 1966, she became the director of New Hampshire's Division of Maternal and Child Health, where she tirelessly worked to establish vital preventive health services for disadvantaged children and their families. Her passion and commitment led to the founding of Child Health Services, which later merged to become what we know today as Amoskeag Health. In the early years, Dr. Deitch was on call nearly every weekend. Not only did she make frequent house calls (which were a rarity back then!), but she even took patients out to the movies when their stressed parents needed a break. Dr. Selma Deitch's legacy lives on as Amoskeag Health continues to provide essential healthcare services to over 16,000 Manchester residents in her honor.
From 100 Patients to NH Woman of the Year
In the early 1980s, Dr. Selma Deitch established Child Health Services (CHS) with 100 patients, offering an innovative model of healthcare that included nutrition, social services, and transportation, alongside medical care. Over the years, CHS expanded to include behavioral and mental health services, a Child Development Clinic, Special Medical Programs, and a Preschool Dental Clinic. Dr. Selma Deitch's exceptional contributions were recognized in 1986 when she was named NH Woman of the Year.
Milestones in Manchester: MCHC's Evolution
In 1993, Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) was founded at 1415 Elm Street as a collaborative effort by Elliot Hospital, Catholic Medical Center, and community partners to provide healthcare for Manchester's underserved patients. Mariellen Durso became the first Executive Director, with Dr. Geordie Thomson as the first Medical Director. In 1996, Child Health Services moved to 1245 Elm Street. The following year, they partnered with the Minority Health Coalition to improve culturally competent care, introducing interpreters with country flags. Ed George took over as MCHC's second President/CEO in 1998, the same year "News & Views," a community newsletter, was launched. Additionally, a Teen Health Clinic was established at Child Health Services, and by 1999, MCHC received its first accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, marking a milestone in their commitment to quality healthcare.
Joint Commission Recognition and Technological Advancements
In the early 2000s, Manchester's healthcare landscape evolved significantly. Governor Jeanne Shaheen and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals recognized Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) for its role in Pfizer's "Sharing the Care" program. Dr. Selma Deitch, CHS founder, passed the torch on to Dr. Rob Nordgren when she retired in 2000, and sadly, our beloved founder passed away just four years later.
A campaign raised CHS's endowment to $1 million in Dr. Selma Deitch's honor, and the Adolescent Health Program began in 2000 to expand youth services. Dr. Gavin Muir became MCHC's Medical Director in 2001, the same year First Lady Hillary Clinton visited. Then, MCHC introduced a Medicaid enrollment process, initiated bilingual case management in 2002, and achieved recognition from the Joint Commission in 2003. Technological advancements followed, with the establishment of electronic medical records, a visit from U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, and a collaboration with Elliot Hospital introducing on-site lab services.
Integrating Mental Health Care for a Brighter Future
In 2005, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona paid a visit to the Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) as Child Health Services marked its 25th Anniversary. That same year, the "Children's Care Campaign" was launched, successfully raising $1.36 million for clinic renovations and program expansion. In 2006, WMUR covered the inspiring "MCHC Story" on YouTube. By 2008, MCHC relocated to its current 145 Hollis Street location, with Fred Rusczek becoming the Executive Director and Lisa DiBrigida, MD, the Medical Director at Child Health Services. The Manchester Sustainable Access Project identified a healthcare need on the West Side, leading to the establishment of the West Side Neighborhood Health Center in collaboration with Catholic Medical Center and Dartmouth-Hitchcock. In 2008, MCHC also implemented a behavioral integration of care model. Fast forward to 2010, and Bedford Commons OB-GYN partnered with MCHC for clinical support. Additionally, a Family Literacy Program was developed at CHS, while MCHC introduced online program information and a video facility tour.
From Accreditation to Community Expansion
In 2011, MCHC established the Advancement department to increase community awareness and support. The following year, Child Health Services received accreditation as a Patient-Centered Medical Home from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. During the same year, they secured a grant under the Affordable Care Act for the Personal Responsibility Education Program, focusing on reducing teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. In November 2012, Ed George retired as President/CEO after over 14 years of service. In 2013, MCHC expanded to a second location on Tarrytown Road, with Kris McCracken becoming the new President and CEO. Dr. Gavin Muir, Chief Medical Officer, was honored as Family Physician of the Year by the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians. The year 2013 also marked MCHC's 20th anniversary and the beginning of LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health) Manchester. In 2014, MCHC introduced the Center of Excellence for Culturally Competent Care, uniting with Child Health Services to expand services to the community and becoming Child Health Services at MCHC, the pediatric practice of the organization.
Amoskeag Health: Fusing Compassion & Commitment
In 2015, Manchester Community Health Center (MCHC) achieved recognition as a Patient-Centered Medical Home by NCQA, and Dr. Laura Fry was honored as Family Physician of the Year by the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians. The same year, MCHC expanded its reach by taking over operations at the West Side Neighborhood Health Center, making it the fourth location in Manchester.
In 2017, MCHC received accolades in the New York Times and was awarded the 2017 Health Center Quality Leader award from HRSA. CHS underwent renovations in September 2017, adding new exam rooms and improving the teen clinic's check-in area. In 2018, MCHC celebrated its 25th anniversary and was recognized again with the Health Center Quality Leader Award. Through a partnership with MCPHS University, MCHC opened the Family Eye Care Center to offer on-site optometry services. In the same year, Dr. Lisa DiBrigida was named Pediatrician of the Year by the New Hampshire Pediatric Society. In June 2019, Manchester Community Health Center, Child Health Services, and West Side Neighborhood Healthcare all merged under the name Amoskeag Health to expand services and better serve patients in Greater Manchester. In 2019, Amoskeag Health hosted a congressional delegation press conference to advocate for the Affordable Care Act, and ProHealth opened in October, providing co-located physical and mental health services.
Vaccine Equity & Mental Health Advocacy
In 2020, Amoskeag Health faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic while remaining open to serve those in need and continued its commitment to inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community with inclusivity initiatives including pronoun pins for employees and gender neutral restroom signage.
In 2021, Amoskeag Health played a vital role in administering Covid-19 vaccines to vulnerable populations and BIPOC communities through dedicated language clinics. The following year, NHHS Secretary Xavier Becerra held a roundtable discussion at the Hollis site to streamline and strengthen Mental Health Services. Also in 2022, Amoskeag Health collaborated with the Manchester School District to introduce the state's first school-based health centers at Beech Street and Gossler Park elementary schools, providing convenient access to healthcare services for families during the school year. In 2023, Amoskeag Health continued its commitment to patient care by upgrading their Electronic Medical Record system and launching a new brand-new patient portal in both English and Spanish, enhancing the understanding of medical information for Spanish-speaking patients.