For some members of the community, it seems like Family Health Network has always been there. The new health center buildings that have been erected in the recent years in several parts of the Cortland area serve as a testament to the fact that health care, like many aspects of modern life, is changing and becoming ever more complex and challenging.
Family Health Network of Central New York Inc. or FHN, was established in 1972 when the agency assumed responsibility for three rural health centers, previously managed by the Cortland County Health Department. In its first full year of operation, 1,800 patients were seen at the largest site, a three-room apartment.
The target population to be served in 1972 was a rural, farm population, since the backbone of the local economy was dairy farming. In 1974, the Appalachian Regional Commission funded a demonstration project using physician assistants to deliver primary care to three small farming communities in Central New York – Cincinnatus, Marathon, and DeRuyter. In 1977, Rural Health Services Development Association Inc. became incorporated as a non-for-profit agency and in 1979 the name of the agency was changed to Cortland County Rural Health Services Inc. In 1989, the name of the agency then changed to become Family Health Network of Central New York Inc.
Since that time, FHN has grown from its original three sites to: five medical health centers, four school-based health centers, six school-based dental programs, and one dental clinic located in Cortland and Cayuga counties. We proudly serve residents of both Cortland and Cayuga County; as well as, the contiguous counties of Tompkins, Madison, Chenango, Broome, and Tioga.
As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), FHN serves as the primary safety net provider for this part of Central New York, and on an annual basis delivers more than 50,000 visits to 15,000 plus patients. In addition to unique features such as Family Health Network’s sliding fee program, FHN offers the following: Family Practice-Primary Care, Dentistry, Occupational Health Services, Obstetrics/Gynecology, Pediatrics, School-Based Health Services, Behavioral Health, Medication Assisted Treatment Services, 340B Pharmacy Services, Insurance Enrollment, Care Coordination & Endocrinology to any individual, regardless of their ability to pay.
In addition to building new health centers in Cortland(2), Marathon, Moravia and Cincinnatus; FHN has maintained Patient Centered Medical Home recognition, achieved multiple Quality Awards (including the HRSA 2021 Health Center Silver Badge Quality Leader), obtained multiple grants, expanded service capacity, and will soon be operating a Mobile Medical Unit.
Many of Family Health Network’s employees serve on community boards and FHN consistently acquires recognition for its donations and contributions to community agencies.
The population of the country today is far more diverse in terms of employment status and insurance coverage than it was in 1972. It is also a population that faces rapidly growing health care needs in the face of limited available resources to meet its needs. National trends show a significant decrease in primary care physicians. Cortland County will not be immune to this physician shortage in the future. There has been a 50 percent decline in graduates of the United States medical schools since 1997, with only 13 percent of these graduating physicians pursuing family practice care.
The health care delivery system in New York is also undergoing continued rapid transformation, driven in part by the state’s Medicaid Redesign Plan and by the implementation of health care reform initiatives such as Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.
Lisa Perfetti, Chair of the Family Health Network Board of Directors, is aware of these challenges and shares the organization’s ongoing mission statement: Family Health Network's mission is to provide accessible, patient-centered, sensitive, high quality healthcare, while pursuing health equity for all. She adds that, 50 years, while significant, is only a starting point. We are here to help the community, are privileged to do so, and want to be around for a long, long time.