Gaston Family Health Services (GFHS) was formed in 1991 to provide health care to any patients in need, regardless of whether or not they have insurance or the ability to pay. It has grown and expanded significantly; in 2014, GFHS served over 41,000 patients through 117,000 encounters.
In 1992, GFHS began providing family medicine services with funding through grants from local government and from Gaston Memorial Hospital (now CaroMont Regional Medical Center). In 1996, GFHS opened the Gaston County Public Health Dental Clinic, expanding it in 2001. In 1998, GFHS opened the Bessemer City Health Care Center, and the GFHS Diabetes Center.
In 2002, GFHS was recognized as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and, in 2004, GFHS opened its Pediatric Dentistry, and SeniorCare sites. In 2006, the Women and Children’s Counseling Center opened, addressing the behavioral health needs of this population. In 2010, both the Cherryville Health Center and Highland Health Center were opened, and the vision clinic of the Diabetes Center was started.
In 2012, a psychiatric nurse practitioner was added to the staff to both treat individual patients and to expand the reach of these services by supporting the Gaston- and Lincoln-based primary care providers in meeting both the physical and mental health needs of their patients using an evidence-based integrated care model. In 2014, a prescribing mental health professional was added to the behavioral health team as well as LCSWs at all medical sites, expanding the successful integrated care model system-wide.
Building on successes in Gaston County, GFHS has initiated projects under the same model in Iredell County with the 2007 opening of both medical and dental sites; in Lincoln County with opening of a medical site in 2010; in Davidson County with the 2012 conversion of a dual-site free clinic into an FQHC; and in Catawba County with a new medical site in 2013.
Also in 2013, a retiring pediatrician serving the Medicaid population in Iredell County asked GFHS to take over his practice, marking GHFS’ entry into providing pediatric medical services. In 2014, GFHS was asked to assume operation of the pediatric primary care clinic from the Gaston County Health Department. In 2015, GFHS added dental services in Davidson County and was asked to assume operation of the Catawba County Health Department’s dental clinic, bringing full-time, affordable dentistry to both those communities.
GFHS also held a successful capital campaign in 2015 that provided funds to combine pediatrics and dentistry into one site in Iredell County – the first combined medical/dental practice in the area.
The organization has been honored with the NC Community Health Center Association’s Evelyn Schmidt Award for outstanding service numerous times, most recently in 2015 for its Workplace Wellness program.
GFHS is committed to a culture of health and caring not only within the organization but in the communities it serves as well. In August 2015, the organization’s employee wellness program was recognized by Healthy Gaston for its achievements. Employees are encouraged to volunteer their time in support of charitable activities in the community including health fairs, running/walking events, school supply drives and food pantry drives.