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Health clinic in Madawaska adds behavioral health, family practice services

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska community welcomes a much anticipated addition to the town’s healthcare industry as Fish River Rural Health expanded to include family practice and behavioral health services in October at its location in the St. Thomas Center.

The practice has provided dental and vision services in the Madawaska area since spring of 2017. This year, however, through grant monies, FRRH was able to open up a behavioral health office alongside a family practice to better serve the community, according to Executive Director Heather A. Pelletier.

The private, nonprofit organization, which started up in 1990, has health centers in Fort Kent and Eagle Lake. Madawaska residents seeking family practice or behavioral health services previously traveled to Fort Kent or elsewhere for treatment.

“Instead of bringing the patients to us, we came to them,” Pelletier said.

She added that the community had asked FRRH to increase services and come to Madawaska since several of the organization’s patients are from the Madawaska area.

“Value is in our unique way of delivering care,” she said. “That’s why we have five generations of patients receiving care.”

Patients can walk into the facility and be seen by any provider from FRRH, including the dentist, optometrist, family nurse practitioner, and psychiatrist.  

“Take the services known and trusted and make them more convenient,” Pelletier said.

Lisa Martin, the family practice provider who transferred to Madawaska from the Fort Kent center, said she loves working for FRRH and wants to continue to work there until she retires.

“I’m very happy,” she said. “It’s a very nice place to work.”

Diane Boucher had been a patient under Martin at the Fort Kent location for around a year and a half but the new practice in Madawaska will make it much easier for her.

“I get out of work, and come here within five minutes,” Boucher said. “So that way you don’t have to take a day off of work for a 20 minute doctor’s appointment.”

Bureau of Primary Health Care deemed FRRH eligible as a federally qualified health center, specifically to increase access to mental health services. FRRH included counseling along with family medicine services under its $285,000 grant proposal because they go hand-in-hand under Fish River’s care model, according to Pelletier.

The money from the grant supports two full-time positions — a licensed clinical social worker and a behavioral health specialist — as well as the operational start-up costs.

While the hours differ based on which service is provided, all hours can be found on the FRRH website or by calling the clinic at 207-728-3971.

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