North Country Family Health Center celebrated its 25th year of providing medical and behavioral health services at Case Middle School on Friday, April 29th.
“We are thrilled to be celebrating a quarter century of providing healthcare services to students at Case Middle School. Providing services directly where students are – in school – significantly increases access to care and allows our staff to focus on the importance of preventative healthcare and health education,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, North Country Family Health Center. “All students are eligible to enroll in the School-Based Health Program within Watertown City School District regardless of income or current healthcare provider. Enrollment is a great back-up plan in case a student gets sick at school or the Health Center can be used as a child’s primary care provider if they do not have one.”
NCFHC, then the North Country Children’s Clinic, opened its first School-Based Health Center at North Elementary in December 1993. In the fall of 1996, a second Health Center was opened at Watertown High School making Case Middle School the third School-Based Health Center to open within the Watertown City School District. In August 1996, The Northern New York Community Foundation awarded the then North Country Children’s Clinic a $25,000 grant to help support the establishment of the Case School-Based Health Center.
Case’s School-Based Health Center is staffed by a Family Nurse Practitioner, a Patient Service Representative, and a Licensed Masters Social Worker who provide individual and family counseling services. Staff care for students when they are sick or if they experience chronic care issues such as diabetes or asthma.
Well child and annual physical exams are also offered to students as well as sports physicals, immunizations, and allergy shots. If students at Case Middle School need preventative dental services such as cleanings, sealants, or fluoride varnish treatments they use the school-based dental clinic at H.T. Wiley School, located on the Watertown City School District campus.
“Many parents choose to enroll their children just in case – in case they are not able to leave work to care for a sick child or they are not able to get their sick child into their primary care provider as soon as they’d like. In addition, we serve as many children’s primary care provider as well,” comments Heather Lupia, School-Based Health Center Administrator. “No student is turned away from our School-Based Health Centers – services are provided with no out-of-pocket cost (co-pays and deductibles) which is a nice benefit for parents. Enrollment forms are available at each school or on-line on our website, www.NoCoFamilyHealth.org.”
“It has been proven time and time again that healthy, happy students are more engaged in their academics,” comments Mark Taylor, Principal, Case Middle School. “Our students, as well as our teachers and staff, are lucky to have the on-site medical and behavioral health services provided by the Health Center. We look forward to working with the NCFHC staff to provide these services to our students for years to come.”
North Country Family Health Center’s 50th anniversary was on Tuesday, October 12th, and the organization celebrated by kicking off planning for an expansion and renovation of its main campus.
The project will add 1,700 square feet to the main campus building, expanding its Family Practice Primary Care Department. Two exam rooms will become negative pressure rooms to be used for patients with COVID-19 symptoms and for aerosolized procedures such as nebulizer treatments.
Part of the addition, 360 square feet at the northwest end of the building, will accommodate a growing clinical support workforce and could be converted into other patient service areas in the future, depending on demand. The project will also modify 900 existing square feet to connect the current structure to the new structure, including some minor renovations of clinical space including a new expanded lab area.
With the Health Resources and Services Administration’s award to the North Country Family Health Center in the amount of $639,843, the center will put it toward supporting the expansion and renovation work at the main campus, 238 Arsenal St. The project budget, including construction costs, fees and equipment, totals nearly $1.2 million. The remaining $555,899 will come from the health center’s secured non-federal funds.
Since the pandemic began, the health center began offering COVID-19 rapid PCR testing to anyone in the community in an outside, drive-up format. The expansion project will allow the center to have additional dedicated lab space for COVID-19 testing machines given the very limited lab space in the current floorplan. The creation of a dedicated and covered outdoor COVID-19 testing area for two cars will protect the health center’s staff from weather.
“Keeping people out of the elements is great for our staff and also great for people who are coming in and not really feeling the best to begin with,” Mrs. Fallon said. “Our staff will enter from a door right out of the new wing, and be able just to go out. People call a number, it’s listed there within the carport and the nurse comes right up to the car to do the testing. So people may not think that a carport is so exciting, but it’s extremely important with a testing situation and much more convenient for patients.”
The center is undergoing significant growth in its workforce to meet the needs of the organization and service area. The Quality & Population Health Department — which focuses on the social determinants of health that impact access to care, contribute to poor health outcomes, and exacerbate health disparities — does not have adequate space to work. A basement renovation will create six shared office cubicles and three private offices for the department.
Since COVID-19, NCFHC has deployed a greater use of telemedicine and dictation for its providers. The change in service offering and use of dictation has resulted in the need for more private space for providers to work. The project will allow for smaller provider office spaces as opposed to one large open provider office.
“Telehealth is a wonderful opportunity; COVID forced many health care providers to do that, everybody’s kind of gone through their learning curve, they’re pretty good at it,” Mrs. Fallon said. “We’re using it through our school systems and part of our renovation will allow our providers to have more private space to do telehealth in.”
NCFHC has focused heavily in the last year on meeting the primary care needs of its service area and as a result recruited two new physicians in 2020 and 2021, a pediatrician and a duly boarded pediatrician and internal medicine physician. The Family Practice Department space does not have enough exam rooms to adequately meet the needs of its growing team.
The department’s expansion will add 1,700 square feet to the north end of the main campus building with five new exam rooms, a new patient bathroom, a new provider office, a new shared office for clinical support staff, a new staff bathroom, and an outside carport for testing.
The project will also include 900 square feet of renovations in the current clinical area to convert a storage room into a sixth exam room; modify a current exam room into a clean supply and STAT lab; modify the current shared provider office into three separate offices; and split a large office into two offices for clinical staff.
Lastly, the project will include renovations of 1,450 square feet of space in the basement of the main campus to create additional office space for the Quality & Population Health Department. The project includes the purchase of new clinical equipment and exam room furniture.
A request for proposals for contract bids will be sent out by the end of the year. A contract decision is expected in January, and construction should begin in the spring of 2022. The project would wrap up by the end of next summer. HOLT Architects P.C. is the architect for the project.
The NCFHC serves about 15,000 individuals within Jefferson and Lewis counties. The Children’s Clinic started out with one clinic in 1971. In 2012, the Children’s Clinic became a federally qualified health care center, and from then on, has been able to provide services to entire families, Mrs. Fallon said.
North Country Family Health Center staff provided a mobile vaccination clinic on Tuesday, April 6th at the South Lewis Middle School/High School. Over 180 individuals received a vaccination that evening and many stated they were thankful for the opportunity to get vaccinated within their own community.
North Country Family Health Center Welcomes New Physician
Watertown, New York — North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) is pleased to welcome Beth Ann Jayne, MD, F.A.A.P. to their staff as the Health Center’s newest physician. She is double boarded in both Pediatrics and Internal Medicine. Dr. Jayne will provide care for patients of any age, including newborns and is currently accepting new patients. She joins the Health Center’s current team of community-based primary care providers: Scott Stern, MD; Diane Keating Jones, DO, F.A.A.P.; Kit Veley, FNP; Cassandra Jackson, FNP; Kate Gates, ANP-BC; Shelby Scordo, PA; and Robin Frost, RPA-C all who coordinate care for adults and children within the Center’s Pediatric & Family Practice location at 238 Arsenal Street, Watertown and at NCFHC’s Health & Wellness Center located on the campus of Jefferson Community College.
Dr. Jayne, who was born in Watertown and spent the first five years of her childhood in the North Country, completed her undergraduate education at Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina in 1994 and then received her medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York in 1999. She completed a combined Internal Medicine and Pediatric residency at Albany Medical Center, Albany, New York in 2003. Dr. Jayne is board certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Board of Internal Medicine. As a double boarded Internist and Pediatrician, Dr. Jayne specializes in both pediatric and adult medicine.
Prior to joining the staff at the Health Center, Dr. Jayne was a partner and attending physician at Novant Health Huntersville Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Charlotte, North Carolina. It was at Novant Health that she received recognition as one of America’s Top Doctors as published in Business NC in both pediatric and internal medicine. Additionally, Dr. Jayne gained National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recognition in both Diabetes Care and Heart/Stroke Programs.
“It is always special to welcome former North Country residents back to the region to further their healthcare career. As a result, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Jayne to our organization. We are extremely excited to continue to grow our Primary Care Team and expand access to high-quality care to the residents of the North Country. Dr. Jayne will be a real asset to the Health Center as she specializes in care for patients of all ages – from newborn to elderly,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, North Country Family Health Center.
If you are interested in making an appointment with Dr. Jayne please call our main office at 315-782-9450. She, along with the Health Center’s other pediatric providers, welcomes expectant mothers to schedule a “meet-and-greet” meeting in order to tour our facility, talk with and become more comfortable with their new pediatrician prior to giving birth. Additionally, the Health Center’s other pediatric and family practice providers are actively taking new patients. North Country Family Health Center prides itself on being a Patient-Centered Medical Home and provides high quality services that are accessible, affordable, patient-centered, and integrated.
“I welcome the opportunity to work at the North Country Family Health Center and am excited to begin working with and educating patients and their families,” comments Dr. Jayne. “I am fortunate to return to where I spent the first few years of my life and give back to the community. My years of pediatric and internal medicine experience have exposed me to many different medical situations and educational opportunities. My own pediatrician, Dr. George S. Sturtz, was instrumental in the development of the Health Center (formerly The Children’s Clinic). I look forward to bringing my experience and knowledge to my patients at the Health Center.”
North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) is pleased to welcome Kathleen A. Bacsik, DDS, to their staff as the Health Center’s newest dentist. Dr. Bacsik will provide care at both the Health Center’s Watertown dental office as well as at its Evans Mills dental office. She joins the Health Center’s current team of community-based dental providers: in the Watertown office: Maria Dille, DDS and Jackie Lam, DDS; at our Evans Mills dental office: Mano Jain, DDS; and at our Lowville dental office: Yong Chang, DDS and Anthony Longo, DDS. Dr. Paul Michaelson is the Health Center’s Chief Dental Officer.
Dr. Bacsik, a native of Watertown, completed her undergraduate education at the State University of New York at Albany in 2014 and then received her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine in 2018. She completed her General Practice Residency at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo in 2019. Prior to returning to Watertown, Dr. Bacsik practiced at Hilde Family Dentistry, Burlington, Washington. Dr. Bacsik is a member of the American Dental Association; the American Dental Political Action Committee; and the American Dental Education Association.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Bacsik, a North Country native, back to Watertown and into our dental practice,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, North Country Family Health Center. “We are very lucky to have Dr. Bacsik join our Team of excellent oral health providers as she is familiar with the needs of our community and embraces our model of care focusing on prevention and integration of services.”
If you are interested in making an appointment with Dr. Bacsik please call our office at 315-782-2628. She is actively taking new patients; and can see patients at either the Arsenal Street office or at our LeRay office in Evans Mills. Please call to make your appointment, our Patient Service Representatives will be glad to assist you.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work in my home community. I look forward to educating families on the importance of preventative dental care – it affects so much of one’s overall health,” comments Dr. Bacsik. “I look forward to bringing my experiences, knowledge, and current dental practices to my patients at the Health Center.” Dr. Bacsik resides in Watertown and enjoys baking in her free time as well as playing the guitar, singing, reading and hiking in and around the North Country.
Effective Monday, September 14th Lowville WIC is temporarily relocating to the Lowville Medical Associates building, 5402 Dayan Street, Lowville, New York.
North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) is pleased to welcome Diane Keating Jones, D.O., F.A.A.P. to their staff as the Health Center’s new Pediatrician. Dr. Jones will provide care for newborns through young adults age 21. She joins the Health Center’s current team of community-based primary care providers: Scott Stern, MD; Kit Veley, FNP; Cassandra Jackson, FNP; Kate Gates, ANP-BC; Shelby Scordo, PA; and Robin Frost, RPA-C all who coordinate care for adults and children within the Center’s Pediatric & Family Practice located at 238 Arsenal Street, Watertown and at NCFHC’s Health & Wellness Center located on the campus of Jefferson Community College.
Dr. Jones completed her undergraduate education at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York in 1997 and then received her Doctor of Osteopathy from New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, Westbury, New York in 2001. She completed her pediatric residency at the Woman & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York in August 2004 and it was there she was awarded the Outstanding Resident Teaching Award in June 2002. Dr. Jones is certified by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is a member of the Academy, and too is a member of the Jefferson Physician Organization.
Prior to joining the staff at the Family Health Center, Dr. Jones was the Medical Director of Pediatrics at Carthage Area Hospital; the Chief Medical Officer for the Carthage Central School District; and the Medical Director of School-Based Clinics for Carthage Central, Beaver River Central, and LaFargeville Central School Districts. Dr. Jones has a particularly close connection with the North Country as she began her medical career in the military by serving as the Chief of Pediatrics at Guthrie Clinic at Fort Drum, 2004-2015. Additionally, she served as the Chief of Pediatrics and Family Medicine at West Point Military Academy at Keller Army Community Hospital from 2015-2016.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Diane Keating Jones to our organization. Dr. Jones has committed her career to providing high quality, family-centered care to children and we look forward to having her join our team of highly dedicated providers,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Chief Executive Officer, North Country Family Health Center.
If you are interested in making an appointment with Dr. Jones please call our office at 315-782-9450. She is actively taking new patients, newborn through age 21. Additionally, the Health Center’s other pediatric and family practice providers are actively taking new patients as well. Please call to make your appointment, our patient service representatives will be glad to assist you. North Country Family Health Center prides itself on being a Patient-Centered Medical Home and provides high quality services that are accessible, affordable, patient-centered, and integrated.
“I welcome the opportunity to work at the North Country Family Health Center and am excited to begin working with and educating patients and their families,” comments Dr. Jones. “My years of pediatric experience has exposed me to so many different medical situations and educational opportunities. I look forward to bringing my experiences, and knowledge, to my patients at the Health Center.” Dr. Jones resides in Carthage with her husband, Jason, and their three children. The family enjoys exploring all that the North Country and the Thousand Islands has to offer.
The North Country Family Health Center’s WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program is hosting its Big Latch On event virtually this year. The event, scheduled for Friday, July 31st, will be held as a “selfie campaign” – breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to take a photo of themselves breastfeeding, or expressing, and to share it on the WIC’s Peer Counselor’s Facebook page, North Country Breastfeeding Peer Counselors, with the hashtag #mybiglatchon2020, throughout the day on Friday, July 31st. This year’s Big Latch On kicks off World Breastfeeding Week, August 1 – August 7, 2020.
World Breastfeeding Week is held the first week of August each year and is celebrated around the world. The week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). The WABA is a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding worldwide. This year is the 28th celebration for WABA. The Global Big Latch On is recognized in over 30 countries. Last year, over 22,000 infants were breastfed during the same one minute all around the world. “Our Big Latch On event has been so popular in the community we did not want to have to cancel this year due to the pandemic, so staff came up with the idea of a “virtual” event. The goal of the event is always to support, encourage, and promote breastfeeding,” states Angel Carter, WIC Director. “Under our unusual circumstances this year it is even more important to support new moms and dads who are home with a newborn and maybe experiencing many “firsts” as new parents. We have been able to provide weekly virtual support groups and our Peer Counselors are also providing video chat support and consultations too.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months after birth. After the first 6 months and until the infant is 1-year-old, the AAP recommends that the mother continue breastfeeding while gradually introducing solid foods into the infant’s diet. After 1 year, breastfeeding can be continued if mutually desired by the mother and her infant. There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding – both for baby, and for moms. “We are very proud of our WIC staff for adapting to the challenges of the Pandemic,” states Kit Veley, FNP, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. “It is even more important during a time like this to reiterate the benefits of breastfeeding – not only for the newborn, but for the mother as well. Breastfeeding can be done safely and easily anywhere, but during the pandemic its more than helpful to breastfeed as new parents don’t have to go to a store to get formula. Breast-milk helps keep your baby healthy and supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions,” continued Veley.
North Country Family Health Center’s WIC Program not only provides benefits for nutritious foods to women, infants, and children, but also provides breastfeeding support and education. WIC offers Certified Lactation Counselors and Peer Counselors to all WIC moms to help them reach their breastfeeding goals.
WIC staff have coordinated, and will be hosting, virtual giveaways throughout the day on Friday, July 31st. For more information on WIC’s breastfeeding support program, or the Big Latch On event, please call the main WIC office at 315-782-9222, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; you may also visit WIC’s North Country Breastfeeding Peer Counselors Facebook page for the latest updates. Due to COVID-19, all face to face WIC appointments have been suspended and ONLY phone appointments are being conducted at this time. Participants benefits will remain active with phone appointments. WIC staff would like to thank MVP Health Care for their sponsorship this year.
Effective Wednesday, June 3rd all three community-based dental sites — Watertown, LeRay, and Lowville – will begin seeing preventative and non-emergency patients. The sites had previously only been able to treat emergency dental cases during the initial pandemic weeks. We are thrilled to have all our dental staff back onsite!
If you missed an appointment due to the pandemic please call any one of our offices to reschedule: