National Health Center Week

This week is National Health Center Week. It’s a time for community health centers (CHC) around the country to take a collective bow, receive a standing ovation, and be recognized for the outstanding services and personalized care they provide annually to 24 million people across the U.S.

Don’t know what a CHC is? Well, here’s some information. CHCs are located in areas where care is needed but is often scarce. They provide high-quality, comprehensive and affordable care to over 24 million people in the US annually, while saving the health care system $24 billion. This is not a new concept; CHCs have been providing care for 50 years.

People using CHCs include over 7 million children, nearly 300,000 veterans, and 1.1 million homeless individuals. Sixty-two percent of patients are racial or ethnic minorities; 75% are covered by Medicaid or are uninsured, and 92% have family incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level (equaling $48,500 for a family of 4).

What’s special about CHCs? They provide more services under one roof, often including medical, dental, and behavioral health services, as well as pharmacy, optometric care and referrals to specialists. They’re often open extended hours (nights and weekends), are more likely to accept new patients, are open to everyone, and are community-governed. This means that at least 51% of board members must be patients. Compared to other providers CHCs have lower costs of care, offer more preventive services, and have higher patient satisfaction rates. This translates into higher rates of controlled hypertension for patients, as well as reduced rates of low birth weight for newborns. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. More information about CHCs can be found here.

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