March 6, 2021 – WOODSVILLE, NH, Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, Inc. (ACHS) held their first COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Saturday, March 6th. The event marked the beginning of a series of vaccine clinics that are part of the US Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Equity Vaccine Program. This initiative, outlined by President Biden in February, aims to ensure America’s most vulnerable populations get equal access to the vaccine. In the area that ACHS serves, the program focuses on vaccinating seniors over 65 and those in rural locations.
ACHS is the first Federally Qualified Community Health Center (FQHC) in the state of New Hampshire to be designated part of the program – one of just 250 across the nation. The program will expand to additional health centers in the upcoming months. It is estimated that 30 million people, most in underserved areas, get their care from FQHCs or similar. The goal of the vaccine program is to help make it easy for all – no matter their location or socioeconomic status – to get the vaccine.
Slow rollout will quickly expand to multiple ACHS sites
ACHS began slowly with a small batch of vaccines over a single clinic day. They rapidly filled in all spots and will be expanding clinics at their other ACHS locations. The next clinic locations are planned throughout March and April at ACHS-Woodsville, Whitefield, and Warren.
Dr. Sarah Young-Xu, Medical Director, along with the ACHS’ Incident Command team worked around the clock to stand up this first clinic. “We are thrilled to be able to bring more vaccines to our community to save lives and reduce illness. We are grateful to the community health center advocacy group Bi-State Primary Care, as well as state resources and the federal agency HRSA for making it possible for us to have these clinics.”, said Young-Xu. “We serve about 11,000 patients at our 5 sites in rural NH. Many are seniors with reduced mobility, limited access to the internet, or transportation barriers that have made it more difficult to get the vaccine. We want to be sure we reach our most vulnerable citizens. These clinics are a great first step!”
“Now I can finally see my daughter!”
ACHS patient, Ellen Skosberg was equally happy she was able to get the vaccine at her local community health center. Skosberg, who is 64 and works as a paraprofessional at an area school, has two chronic conditions. She was pre-qualified for vaccine Phase 1b by her ACHS physician back in February. However, because of the heavy volume to the NH vaccine registration website, the earliest she could get an appointment for the vaccine was in April. When Ellen heard about the ACHS vaccine clinic she was excited to book her appointment. She was able to reserve the very first spot at ACHS. “I still can’t believe it. I trust my community health center, so it was a relief they were giving the vaccine. The process was smooth and easy, and I even saw some familiar faces. After I get my second dose, I’ll finally be able to see my daughter!” (Ellen’s daughter has already been vaccinated.)
ACHS and its team are pleased to be able to assist patients like Ellen and community members through the pandemic and are looking forward to providing more vaccine clinics in the upcoming months.
Founded in 1975, ACHS is a nonprofit community health center offering a network of affordable health care services to residents of 26 New Hampshire towns in northern Grafton and southern Coos counties. With sites located in Littleton, Franconia, Whitefield, Warren, and Woodsville, their Clinical teams provide comprehensive services – including primary, dental, and behavioral health care on a sliding fee scale to nearly 11,000 patients. For more information about ACHS, visit https://achsproduction.wpengine.com/ or call 444-2464.