North Shore Community Health began as Peabody Family Health Center in 1977 after a group of community members came together to discuss lack of access to high-quality primary care in their city. Peabody Family Health Center was launched and provided primary care to a diverse population of low-income, medically-underserved, uninsured, and under-insured area residents.

Peabody Family Health changed its name from Peabody Family Health Center to North Shore Community Health in 1980 to reflect its ever-growing scope. The North Shore Community Health expanded in 1990 and began servicing Salem with the opening of Salem Family Health Center. In 2008, North Shore Community Health expanded again with the opening of Gloucester Family Health Center.

NSCH opened a school-based clinic at Salem High around 1994. NSCH opened the Peabody High clinic opened in 2001, however, it closed in 2003 due to state grant funding cuts but re-opened in a brand new clinic in 2015.

Today, NSCH has three full-time Family Clinics: Salem, Peabody, and Gloucester Family Health. NSCH has the following school-based sites: Teen Health Center at Salem High School, the Student Health Center at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School, and five behavioral health-only sites at elementary and middle schools in Salem.

The Community Health Center movement

The Community Health Center movement has a rich history woven by medical providers, dental providers, healthcare workers, public policy makers, and consumers driven by the mission of providing high quality primary health care to the poor and underserved.  The present-day Community Health Center movement history began as the Neighborhood Health Centers which were established in 1965 under the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) as a vehicle to provide health care to poor and medically underserved communities. The OEO provided services as a part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

The first two health centers in the nation were founded at Columbia Point, Dorchester MA, and Mound Bayou, Mississippi under the guidance of Doctor H. Jack Geiger and Doctor Count D. Gibson Jr. These two centers launched American Community Health Center Movement in urban and rural areas across the country, bringing a vision of comprehensive, community-based services for the poor and underserved.

The National Association of Neighborhood Health Centers (NACHC) was founded in 1971. The Association’s objective was to provide education, training, and technical assistance to Neighborhood Health Center staff and community Board members.  Between1985 and 1986, health centers formed state and regional Primary Care Associations (PCAs) to monitor state policy developments, obtain the first federal funding and recognition.

Community Health Centers are growing:

  • In 2000, 12,000,000 patients were seen in Community Health Centers.
  • In 2004, 15,000,000 patients were seen in Community Health Centers.
  • In 2012, more than 22,000,000 people were seen in Community Health Centers.
  • In 2015, over 25,000,000 patients were seen in Community Health Centers.
  • In 2017, more than 1,400 community health centers provided health care to nearly 28,000,000 throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.

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