The new home of Families First Health and Support Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, shown in this rendering, will enable the organization to serve more patients in need. (image courtesy of Families First)

A grandparent is left to raise a toddler when the child’s parents go to recovery for drug addiction. A middle-aged person without dental insurance has decay so severe that they might lose their teeth. In these difficult situations, a community health organization can be a lifeline.

As a patient-forward company, Novocure is a proud supporter of Families First Health and Support Center, a not-for-profit community health center and family resource center that helps people in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and southern Maine access family resources and healthcare, even if they lack insurance.
Novocure is committed to supporting our neighbors in New Hampshire's Seacoast region. Here, representatives from Novocure, Families First and WJP Development of Portsmouth gather in 2021 to celebrate Novocure’s $250,000 gift to support the development of a community center. (image courtesy of Families First)

Novocure committed $250,000 — the lead corporate gift — to the capital campaign for Families First’s new home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where our U.S. operations are based. Our donation will help turn a former gym in Portsmouth into a 15,000-square-foot community health center that provides medical, dental and behavioral healthcare; parent education; a recovery center; a pharmacy and more under one roof.

By offering so many services at one location, Families First aims to reduce barriers to access, such as scheduling and transportation challenges, that keep many people from receiving services they need, said Joann Neumann, Chief Development Officer at Families First.

When Families First moved to its current location in 1999, its core services were limited to prenatal care, primary care, parent education and home visiting. Since then, dental care, behavioral health care and mobile health care have been added; the agency has outgrown its space.

“We have adapted; we’ve made do,” Joann said. “We’ve made it work, but we know it’s time, in order to improve the model and serve more patients, this had to be done.”

The new facility, slated to open in early 2022, will expand the organization’s capacity from 10 to 15 medical exam rooms and from three to five dental exam rooms. The onsite pharmacy and recovery center will be new additions to their slate of offerings. Families First anticipates serving 3,500 more people by 2023 because of the move.

The new building will also strengthen Families First by helping the organization attract healthcare providers in a competitive labor market.

“When employees come to a nice facility that’s designed with them in mind, we hope it improves job satisfaction and retention,” Joann said.
Novocure Executive Chairman Bill Doyle and Janet Laatsch, CEO of Greater Seacoast Community Health, the parent organization of Families First, visit the site of the new Families First building. (image courtesy of Families First)

In addition, the facility will serve as a training site for medical residents through Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s affiliation with Tufts University.

As a community health organization, Families First aligns with Novocure’s patient-forward mission.

“Patient-forward is how we operate, and it’s more than just a mantra for us,” said Mike Ambrogi, Senior Technology Fellow. “It’s what we live by, and I think with Families First, that’s their position as well. They always put the patients first. They reach out, figure out the needs of those underserved populations, and they put the patients first.”

Novocure has a history of outreach in communities where we work, including previous smaller donations to Families First.

“They provide such a great benefit to an underserved population here in Portsmouth,” Mike said. “They’re providing healthcare to people who don’t otherwise have access to it.”

Of the patients served by Families First in 2020, 82 percent lived at 200 percent of the U.S. federal poverty level or below. Fourteen percent were uninsured; 44 percent were on Medicaid, and 8 percent were on Medicare.

For Families First, community support is essential to their success.

“Having the trust of an organization like Novocure behind our services and programs helps others in the community see the value of what we do,” Joann said.

That goodwill is important for expanding services and reaching more people with unmet healthcare needs, she said.

“If people see that we’re working to meet the needs of our community, and you’re supporting that, they might be willing to make a call to find a provider if they haven’t had any healthcare in years,” Joann said.

Through our outreach, we are also cementing our place as fixture in our communities. Mike notices it when he goes out running and strikes up conversations with people in Portsmouth.

“I’d say, now, just about everybody, when they ask where I work, and I say ‘Novocure,’ they know what Novocure is, or they’ve heard of Novocure,” he said. “That would never have happened five years ago.”