New personnel has enabled provider to help administer more than 17,000 doses of vaccine, staff new Central Square clinic
By Steve Yablonski
As the pandemic lingers, ConnextCare continues efforts to support its local response to the COVID-19 virus through the administration of vaccine for third doses and booster doses. Also, during the week of Nov. 8-12, they had Pfizer pediatric doses for those 5 to 11.
“Vaccine clinics were being held at five local school districts in mid-November as well as through a drive-thru option at the Parish and Pulaski offices,” according to Tricia Peter-Clark, president and chief executive officer. “This reduced any potential barriers to accessing the vaccine.”
Despite the challenges the pandemic has posed on the health care delivery system, ConnextCare has still been able to carry out a few of its strategic plans with the opening of a new Mexico Elementary-High School school-based health center in October and the anticipated opening of a new primary care site in Central Square on Dec. 1, she added.
To support this expansion, as well as other program growth opportunities, ConnextCare has been working to recruit additional providers to ensure adequate support and patient access at all 15 practice sites, Peter-Clark explained.
New providers were hired to support the transfer of existing providers to Central Square to ensure that ConnextCare had stable capacity at the existing locations to manage the patients they are currently providing a medical home for, she added.
New staff added
“Recruitment efforts have led to the onboarding of: two family practice physicians, one pediatrician, one pediatric nurse practitioner, three family practice nurse practitioners, one adult geriatric nurse practitioner, three physician assistants, one psychiatric nurse practitioner, one dentist and two licensed master social workers — many of whom have trained at a ConnextCare practice prior to joining or who have been referred by one of our existing outstanding professionals,” she said.
As for expansion on the numbers, through Nov. 5, ConnextCare has administered 17,399 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, Peter-Clark said.
The hiring of the new provider team was strategic, as ConnextCare is preparing for the grand opening of its Central Square location, she added.
Physician Anthony Rotella, who is currently working at the ConnextCare Fulton office, will be transitioning to this location to serve as the physician leader for the site. And, nurse practitioners Jessica Kimball, Maya Werksman and Chelsea Claflin, currently practicing in Pulaski, will also transition to Central Square and work alongside Rotella to build this new practice site.
“ConnextCare has a wait list of new patients who have requested to establish at this location, which we will be working to schedule over the next several months,” Peter-Clark said. “This new site will expand access for the north shore and essentially make ConnextCare fully accessible throughout the entire county.”
ConnextCare’s new dentist and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner were onboarded solely to enhance access due to demands in both oral and mental health, Peter-Clark explained.
ConnextCare is a nonprofit corporation and a federally qualified health center run by a volunteer board of directors. In 2018, the health care network adopted the new name, ConnextCare, to better reflect its growth in staff, services and locations.
ConnextCare was founded nearly 50 years ago as Northern Oswego County Health Services, Inc. It is a family-oriented primary care practice network with sites in Pulaski, Mexico, Parish, Phoenix, Oswego and Fulton. It services residents of Oswego County, southern Jefferson County, northern Onondaga County and Lake Ontario visitors by providing quality health and wellness services.
ConnextCare runs seven school-based health centers in the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Fulton, Mexico, Sandy Creek and Pulaski school districts.
It is accredited by the Joint Commission and is certified as a Level 3 patient-centered medical home.
ConnextCare employs a medical team of physicians, mid-level providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants), dentists and dental hygienists, behavioral health specialists and contracted psychiatrists.
Specialty services are available at the ConnextCare Pulaski site, provided by independent providers.
Specialties provided include cardiology, physical therapy, nephrology, podiatry, family planning and surgery.
Featured Image: Tricia Peter-Clark, president and CEO of ConnextCare; Patrick Dewine, executive director of United Way of Greater Oswego County, and Tracy Wimmer, chief financial officer of ConnextCare promotes joint efforts to vaccinate the 12- 25-year-old Oswego County population.