SOMERSWORTH — Although the merger between Goodwin Community Health and Families First Health and Support Center has been in the works for three years, the collaboration between the two organizations goes back a lot further.

The two public health centers plan to merge by year’s end and held two public forums recently. At the Dover forum, David Staples, chairman of the board of Goodwin Community Health, talked about how the merger idea came up three years ago.

“One thing led to another,” he said. “We started having monthly meetings and said let’s do this.”

Once the merger is complete, Goodwin CEO Janet Laatsch will lead the merged organization as CEO. Laatsch, who has expertise in finance and nursing, has served as CEO since 2005. Helen Taft, Families First’s executive director since 1989, will retire once the transition is complete.

Taft said there’s already been a lot of cooperation and collaboration between the organizations.

According to a statement, Goodwin and Families First share similar heritages and values and nearly identical missions. They also share a 30-year history of collaborating on best practices, staffing solutions and population health programs, like mobile health care, to meet the needs of their adjoining service areas in southeastern New Hampshire and southern Maine.

Taft said Families First has two mobile medical vans that have traveled to Strafford County for many years.

“We really started to look at this five years ago,” Taft said. “We share a lot of the same patients who often move back and…

Mayra Rodriguez

Mayra Rodriguez

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