Northern Counties Health Care (NCHC), a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), was recently recognized with Quality Awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for their achievements in providing high quality care and increasing access to care for underserved populations. The NCHC network includes Concord Health Center, Danville Health Center, Hardwick Area Health Center, Island Pond Health and Dental Center, Northern Counties Dental Center, Orleans Dental Center, and St. Johnsbury Community Health Center.

NCHC received $146,000 in recognition for quality based on the 2017 Uniform Data System submission, a core system of information for reviewing the operation and performance of health centers.

Of all the Vermont and New Hampshire FQHC’s, NCHC was recognized in the most categories: Electronic Health Record (EHR) Reporters, Clinical Quality Improver, Health Center Quality Leader, Enhancing Access to Care, Addressing Health Disparities, Advancing Health Information Technology (HIT) for Quality, and Achieving PCMH Recognition Awards. This places NCHC in the 1st and 2nd quartile nationally (top 30% of health centers) for all clinical metrics except for Coronary Artery Disease including as a national leader in Hypertension Control.

“These awards represent a tremendous amount of time, work, and effort at all levels of the organization to achieve recognition in so many categories,” said Kari White, Director of Quality for NCHC. “Though the investment in time and resources to work on improving efficiency, patient experience, clinical care and outcomes, and staff satisfaction may not be immediately tangible – this award is a good reminder that it is worth it to create a culture of excellence for our staff, patients, and community.”

FQHC’s received awards for their utilization of health information technology systems to increase access to health care and advance quality of care, for meeting the rigorous quality standards required for Patient-Centered Medical Home designation, and for achieving at least a 10 percent improvement in one or more Clinical Quality Measure in 2017. Additional awards included recognition for FQHCs that are serving more patients than the previous year; achieving the best overall clinical performance (top 30 percent) as compared to their peers; and for achieving or exceeding a 10 percent improvement toward one or more Healthy People 2020 Goals across different racial and/or ethnic groups.

“Our quality program has come a long way over the last few years, and I am really proud of what Kari and her team have been able to accomplish,” said Shawn Tester, CEO of NCHC. “This award demonstrates that we are improving health outcomes for the patients we serve, through the hard work of our providers, our care teams, analytics and support staff.”