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About Us

When most North Country residents hear about Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO), they naturally think about Soldiers, military families, or the US Army base here in Jefferson County, New York

We are proud of this association. FDRHPO was founded nearly twenty years ago to connect Fort Drum Soldiers and families with quality healthcare in the North Country, and we remain committed to this goal today. However, our work extends beyond Fort Drum, as we work - together with our partners - to strengthen the System for Health for all individuals living in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties ... civilians and Soldiers alike. 

What is a System for Health?

A System for Health engages all aspects of the community to promote health and wellness, prevent illness and injury, and provide the highest quality of care when and where necessary. It aims to do this while positively affecting the behaviors of citizens and the environments in which they live, work, and play. 

Located in Downtown Watertown, FDRHPO collaborates with several local hospitals, primary care offices, behavioral health providers, Emergency Medical Services, healthcare higher education organizations, public health organizations, a variety of community-based organizations, and more to identify and fill gaps in our regional healthcare system. 

We do much of our work behind the scenes, analyzing local needs in healthcare, strategizing with healthcare partners to find solutions, and securing necessary resources to help make those solutions a reality. 

Our initiatives span the healthcare spectrum. Our program areas and initiatives consist of Population Health, Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Health, Health Information Technology, Health Workforce, and Emergency Medical Services. These initiatives combined, create the healthcare spectrum that our services and programs focus on for our region. Each of these initiatives relies on community health organization partners and organizations. Each initiative hosts separate committees with our regional healthcare partners to ensure that our resources are up-to-date and that we are building a patient-focused system for health.

Whatever we're involved in, we're thinking about the future. Our success is not measured day-to-day; it is demonstrated as we begin to see the health of the North Country improve from generation to generation. We are committed to making the North Country a healthier community. 

Our Region

Our region, which we proudly call the "North Country," encompasses New York's Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. 

Starting from the northwest on the picturesque waterfront of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, our region stretches southeast across the rolling landscape of the Tug Hill Plateau and into the rugged beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. Scattered throughout the tri-county area are small waterways perfect for fishing and kayaking; forests for hiking, hunting, and observing nature; and rural communities with friendly neighbors, historic buildings, and safe schools. 

Also in our region lies Fort Drum, home to the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. As a close-knit member of our community for around 40 years, Fort Drum is home to approximately 25,000 Soldiers and their family members — many of whom receive their healthcare in the community. As of 2022, our region’s population included 253,151 people of whom 117,445 lived in Jefferson County (46%), 26,690 lived in Lewis County (11%), and 108,670 lived in St. Lawrence County (43%).

Our History

Our History

Arrival of the 10th Mountain Division

In the mid-1980s, the US Army made a conscientious decision not to build a hospital on Fort Drum, but rather to integrate the military base with existing healthcare services in the surrounding community. That decision led to a unique model of Healthcare, which FDRHPO continues to nurture.

2004: Arrival of 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT)

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team was established at Fort Drum. This team brought together six battalions, increasing soldiers and military families in northern New York, leading to the formation of FDRHPO the following year. 

FDRHPO began as a small steering committee of community healthcare providers and Fort Drum’s Medical Department Activity (MEDDAC) to develop a model of care that met the needs of soldiers and civilians alike. Soon after, it became a Department of Defense 721 pilot program and received one-time base funding to allow its work to continue full-time.

2005: Genesis of FDRHPO

2007: FDRHPO Incorporated
as a 501 3c

FDRHPO becomes a 501 3c to continue our mission of building a patient-centered system for health and to support Fort Drum soldiers and families with regional healthcare. 

The Workforce Pipeline Program was created to develop and retain healthcare professionals in the North Country through Job Shadow programs, Medical Academy of Science and Health (MASH) Camps, and other healthcare-related job mentoring opportunities. 

2008: Workforce Pipeline Program

2009: North Country
Telemedicine Project 

FDRHPO created the North Country Telemedicine Project (NCTP), an extensive fiber-optic network that connected more than 25 healthcare facilities in Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and St. Lawrence counties, including Fort Drum's Guthrie Ambulatory Care Clinic. 

The HEAL NY9 EMS (Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers EMS) project addressed the challenges faced by emergency medical services (EMS) systems in the state. The project improved the efficiency, quality, and sustainability of EMS systems across New York.

2009: HEAL NY9 Project

2009: HEAL NY10 Project

FDRHPO partners with the Adirondack-Champlain Telemedicine Information Network (ACTION) to create a second network encompassing sites in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties, as well as Chittenden County in Vermont.

2011: HRSA Rural Health Information Technology Network Development

The HEAL-NY 21 grant provided $3.7 million to further connect local hospitals, setting up a system of shared services and governance among them.

2013: HRSA Rural Health Information Technology Workforce Program

North Country Initiative (NCI) is a clinically integrated network of hospitals, independent physicians and community providers working together to reform the healthcare system in Northern New York. It is also an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), bringing together local hospitals and providers to work as a team to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries and curb the rising cost of healthcare.

2015: DSRIP Begins "Year 1"

FDRHPO was selected by the Department of Health to serve as a regional Population Health Improvement Program (PHIP). As a PHIP FDRHPO and NCI aimed to develop better care, better population health, and lower healthcare costs – through regional partners.  

2015: EMS Program Agency

FDRHPO starts collaboration with Adirondack Health Institute (AHI) to form the North Country Telehealth Partnership, a unified effort to plan and implement telemedicine throughout a 12-county catchment area, covering northern and central New York. The North Country Telehealth Partnership becomes the leading collaborative, focused on increasing access to healthcare through the innovative use of telehealth and telemedicine technology. 

2015: Accountable Care Organization (ACO) 

FDRHPO becomes one of six recipients of the Linking Interventions for Total (LIFT) Population Health grant, awarded by the state Department of Health. FDRHPO becomes responsible for implementing coordinated activities focused on preventing and controlling obesity and diabetes in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

2017: Behavioral Health Care Collaborative (BHCC) Formed

A new regional initiative was created to improve vision health for diabetic patients in the North Country. The Telemedicine-Based Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program uses state-of-the-art technology to capture a detailed image of a patient’s retina and securely send it to a participating ophthalmologist or optometrist for assessment.

2019: HEALING Communities Study with Columbia Unversity

Health Career Army Pathways Program (HCAPP) was created for military spouses and dependents (over 18), Reservists, and transitioning Soldiers leaving active duty who are interested in continuing their careers in healthcare. This program was developed to help grow and retain healthcare professionals in the North Country. 

2020: North Country Independent Practice Association (IPA) 

2021: HRSA Northern Border Regional Commission 

With grant support from the New York Health Foundation, FDRHPO conducted quantitative and qualitative research into barriers to, and solutions to support, patient-centered primary care access.

2023: EMS Program Agency Expansion

FDRHPO offers mental health awareness training to a wide variety of groups and stakeholders including educators, healthcare workers, community-based organizations, fire-fighters, EMTs, law enforcement, active-duty military, veterans, and their families.

2023: HRSA Northern Border Regional Commission: Health Equity Trainings

FDRHPO received a 4-year HRSA Rural Health Network Development grant to promote Transitional & Chronic Care Management in Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, and the rural-designated areas of Jefferson County. The grant makes it possible to reimburse partners for mTCM (Transitional Care Management for Medicaid-insured patients) and mCCM (Chronic Care Management for Medicaid-insured patients). These services also incorporate health-related social needs screening, documentation, and referrals to appropriate services.

2023: Behavioral Health & Substance Use Organizations - Patient Attribution in North Country IPA

The HEAL-NY 10 grant allowed FDRHPO to implement electronic health records in medical offices throughout the region. This allowed five local hospitals and 48 practices and clinics to securely send and receive patient health information on one network.

2011: Telemedicine Network Expands

FDRHPO is awarded funding for three years (2011 – 2013) to improve healthcare by supporting the adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT) in our region, providing targeted HIT support to regional healthcare partners. The intent of the program was to support the adoption, implementation, and use of electronic health records.

2012: HEAL NY21 Project

This created support for the recruitment, education, training, and retention of HIT specialists. The goal was to develop formal training programs and create a cadre of HIT workers capable of helping rural hospitals and clinics implement and use electronic health records (EHR), telehealth, home monitoring, and mobile health technology to meet national EHR meaningful use standards.

2014: Formation of North
Country Initiative (NCI)

2015 started New York State’s five-year Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program aimed at fundamentally changing healthcare delivery. DSRIP brought together hospitals, primary care providers, behavioral healthcare providers, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders who increased access to preventive care while reducing avoidable emergency department and inpatient services. 

2015: NYS PHIP Designation

FDRHPO assumes the role of administrator of the North Country EMS Program Agency overseeing three counties. The program agency provides continuous quality improvement, policy and regulatory guidance, EMS training and credentialing, technical support and more. 

2015: North Country Telehealth Partnership Formed

Healthcare partners and FDRHPO began working as the Accountable Care Organization in the North Country, starting the Medicare value-based contract. 

2017: LIFT Grant Received

Behavioral Health Care Collaboratives (BHCCs) were developed by NYS to prepare behavioral health providers for value-based care and to improve the integration of physical and behavioral health. FDRHPO has provided the Tughill/Seaway BHCC, to include community and hospital-based behavioral health providers in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties, administrative and program support to meet program deliverables. 

2018: "Diabetic TeleRetinopath" Program Launched

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched the HEALing Communities Study in 2019 to investigate the effectiveness of a coordinated system of evidence-based interventions in select counties most affected by the opioid epidemic. FDRHPO and Lewis County Community Services worked with county partners to implement a coordinated system of care that increased the number of individuals receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), increased the distribution of naloxone, reduced high-risk opioid prescribing, and enhanced harm reduction efforts.

2020: Healthcare Careers Army Pathway Program (HCAPP)

Using the “messenger model,” participants jointly contract with one or more payers, such as Managed Medicaid, Managed Medicare, or commercial insurers. Participants in the North Country IPA include hospitals, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, behavioral health providers, independent primary care providers, and community-based social care organizations across Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties.

FDRHPO was awarded the HRSA Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) program planning grant. This program allowed for the identification of key rural health issues, assessing rural health challenges, and informing health planning activities across the northern border region. 

2022: NY Health Foundation "Patient-Centered Primary Care" Project and Report

FDRHPO EMS Program Agency merges with Mountain Lakes EMS Program Agency, increasing support and oversight from three counties to eight counties. 

2023: SAMSHSA Mental Health Awareness Training Center 

FDRHPO begins providing training in health equity including Bridges to Health & Healthcare and Health Literacy & Cultural Competency. These trainings support clinical, behavioral, and social care teams to better understand and meet the needs of the populations they serve. 

2023: HRSA Rural Health Network Development - Promoting Transitional & Chronic Care Management

FDRHPO incorporated additional Medicaid members with behavioral health and/or substance use needs into one of the IPA’s value-based contracts. It also included the behavioral health and substance use providers who serve these patients in our IPA, thereby meaningfully engaging them in value-based care alongside primary care providers.

The Rural Health Network Program addresses challenges unique to rural areas by fostering collaboration, leveraging existing resources, reducing duplication of services, and facilitating collaborative solutions with the goal of developing and sustaining comprehensive, cost-effective healthcare systems tailored to the unique needs of our region.

2012: Rural Health Network

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