The Great Northwoods Community Foundation (GNCF), a collaboration formed by Androscoggin Valley Hospital and Coos County Family Health Services, recently contributed $20,000 to the City of Berlin in support of the City’s advancement of recreation and wellness related projects. In addition, the Foundation made a donation of $20,000 to the Town of Gorham for the same purpose. “On behalf of the Foundation, we are pleased to be able to further these important initiatives by contributing to projects that are intended to improve the overall health of the people in our community,” commented Mike Peterson, President & CEO of AVH, and Board Chair of the Great Northwoods Community Foundation. Ken Gordon, CEO of CCFHS, who also serves as the GNCF Board Secretary added, “These contributions are ideal examples of why this Foundation was developed – to address our community’s social determinants of health.”
The Great Northwoods Community Foundation, which has been operational since June 2019, was created to reduce hospital re-admissions and healthcare costs by providing resources intended to improve the overall health and well-being of our region’s residents. It was intended to address the needs that don’t traditionally rely on an acute medical facility or a primary care practice to address, but which have a positive impact on a person’s health status. Helping the community sometimes comes in unconventional ways that don’t truly “fit” within Missions of either the hospital or a primary care practice. For example, over the past two years, dozens of air conditioners have been purchased and donated by the Foundation to help individuals suffering from breathing issues, made worse by the extreme heat that we have experienced, in an effort to keep them from decompensating and needing to go to the emergency room. This simple solution can improve their quality of life, and decrease the overall cost of healthcare by avoiding readmissions to the hospital. In addition, when local food banks were struggling because of COVID-19 this past year, the Foundation donated $6,000 to help supply these critical agencies to help feed our community. Beyond the $40,000 donated to the two municipalities, to date, the Foundation has financially assisted more than 80 individual patients’ needs pertaining to housing, medications, healthcare, and food assistance, by providing more than $18,000 in funding to help improve the health and wellbeing of our area residents.
“We are fortunate that the Board of Trustees of the Great Northwoods Community Foundation has empowered organizations at a local level to directly make a difference in the lives of those in Coos County,” commented Peterson. “Effective care coordination truly operates in real-time and at the individual level. This Foundation makes that coordination a possibility every day.”
AVH and CCFHS both contribute in equal amounts each year to ensure the Foundation remains able to deliver its purpose. Additionally, the effectiveness of the GNCF to make a real difference in people’s lives has attracted the attention and support of other funders. To date, Wellsense, NH Healthy Families, and the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund have made financial contributions to the fund, helping to address the social determinants of health.
The Foundation is in the process of developing plans to expand a program which would include “micro-grants” to provide funding for local civic and service organizations which have ideas and mechanisms, but not the monetary resources to execute those plans and projects aimed at improving the health and well-being of our communities. “This exciting new direction the Foundation is taking is intended to leverage the goodwill and ingenuity that already exists within our community, and bring to fruition the great ideas that many people have to help their friends and neighbors stay healthy” stated Gordon. More information about these micro-grants and the process to apply for them will be made public in the coming weeks.
For more information, or to inquire about how you can support this Foundation, please contact Joanne L’Heureux, Community Clinical Coordinator, at (603) 326-5986 or (603) 342-0218.