Healthwatch 16: Getting the Word Out about Community Health

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MONTROSE -- In Susquehanna County, a community health care group threw itself a birthday celebration as a way to let people know they're there and ready to serve them.

In Montrose, in a newly renovated building called Tannery Place, there's a health care center Gail Davis thinks you should know about.

"I came to work here four weeks ago and I discovered that this is one of the best-kept secrets in Susquehanna County! I've lived here locally and did not know about NEPA Community Health Care," Davis said.

NEPA Community Health Care is a doctor's office for everyone from children through older adults, offering behavioral health, too.

This is essentially your friendly neighborhood doctor's office.

Mary Wetherall is the CEO and says a lot of people in rural Susquehanna County don't have a family doctor, someone to use for screenings, vaccinations, and checkups. Sometimes, she says, they only go to a doctor if they are very ill. Wetherall wants to change that.

"Even if you haven't been to see a doctor for years and years, come on in and our friendly staff will help you out and get you where you need to be," Wetherall said.

The offices have been around for a while, but only for a year here at Tannery Place. The building is in honor of a little boy, Matthew Stahl, who died in 2012.

And it was Matthew's mother who had the idea for a birthday party last weekend.

The open house featured stations of sorts, with information on poison control, immunizations, and internet safety, not to mention cake and balloons.

More than 200 people showed up more than organizers expected.

"We had people that came in because we did a lot of advertising. They said, 'we did not know it was here,' and as a result, they actually made appointments this week," said Davis.

A good first step, she says, in getting affordable, approachable health care to those who need it.

Most insurance is accepted at NEPA Community Health Care, and there is a sliding scale for those who can't afford it.

Wetherall says there's also a psychiatrist on staff. They're trying to fill a need for behavioral, not just medical, health.