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March 22. 2013 11:13PM

Health center to serve estimated 9,000 patients


Guests mingle at the grand opening of the Manchester Community Heath Center on Tarrytown Road in Manchester on Friday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - The new Manchester Community Health Center-Tarrytown is expected to become the medical home for an estimated 9,000 people in the coming year.

Kris McCracken, CEO and president of MCHC, said the new center expects most of those to be new patients from the area.

If some come from the other center, at 145 Hollis St., she said, that simply means there will be openings at Hollis for now unserved residents.

McCracken and other speakers at the grand opening ceremonies held at Elliot Hospital stressed that the new center, at 184 Tarrytown Road in Doctors Park, will provide not only primary health care for families, but also things like interpreters, Medicaid enrollment, diabetic education, counseling services and psychiatric nurse practitioner services.

McCracken said behavioral health must be available at a community health center. "You can't not address the mental health problem," she said. "It touches everybody."

The new center is a collaboration between Manchester Community Health Center, the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester and Easter Seals, with additional support from Elliot Hospital.

Mental health center President Peter Janelle said the center sees 11,000 people a year and said the plan is to replicate the mental health center program downtown at MCHC-Tarrytown.

Mayor Ted Gatsas chided the participants, saying it took a long time for the new center to become a reality. He said conversations about the new center began three years ago about the need for access to primary care.

"Emergency room costs are so much higher than going to a primary care physician," he said, "and we all know those costs are passed on to all health care consumers." He said there are an estimated 13,000 residents in need of a health care home.

He said there needs to be a health center on the West Side, saying he has three or four possible sites in mind.

Praising the collaboration of the various parties in making this center a reality, Gatsas said: "I look forward to cutting the next ribbon in six months." When the principals and invited guests adjourned from the Elliot conference room to the health center building for a ceremonial ribbon cutting, Gatsas nudged everyone again about a West Side location, repeating his earlier comment: "In six months I'll be doing this again."

MCHC officials said there will be a West Side location but six months is much too optimistic a time frame.


dvincent@unionleader.com



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