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March 11. 2014 8:10PM

Two Manchester health clinics working on merger plan

MANCHESTER — Two non-profit organizations that provide health care to the poor and uninsured are close to announcing plans to combine their organizations into a single entity, according to the board president of Child Health Services.

Within a month or so, Child Health Services and the Manchester Community Health Center could submit plans to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, said Steve Paris, the board president of Child Health Services.

Paris said the new organization would be in a better position to offer health care to the poor and uninsured, and it would likely be able to leverage more federal health dollars for the greater Manchester area.

“We’re pretty close to the finish line,” said Paris, who is the medical director for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic in Manchester. “I think the time is right, the people are energized to do it.”

Kris McCracken, president and chief executive of the Manchester Community Health Center, said she should have more information next month about the plans.

“It just feels too premature to get into specifics,” McCracken said.

Her organization has 11,500 active patients, 40 percent of whom lack health insurance, she said. The organization is a federally qualified health center, meaning it receives higher payments from Medicaid as long as it accepts all patients, regardless of their ability to pay or their citizenship status.

She said the operating budget is about $8.5 million a year. It services patients at two locations, at Tarrytown Road and Hollis Street in Manchester.

Child Health Services is the older of the two organizations and was founded in 1980 by former Manchester pediatrician Selma Deitch. Deitch opened the organization with the goal of providing what she called “bio-psychosocial health care” to children from poor families. The services include heath care, social services, help with nutrition and behavioral health.

Child Health Services also runs the Teen Health Clinic.

It reported $3.1 million in revenues to the IRS for its 2012 tax year, and Paris said it counts about 2,000 active patients. Almost all are children or teenagers, he said. It is not a federally qualified clinic, meaning it does not receive higher Medicaid payments for services it provides.

Any affiliation or merger would have to be vetted by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Unit in a process that would involve public hearings, McCracken said. She said nothing has been signed. Paris said final documents are completed, and informal conversations have taken place with state and federal regulators.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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