8/8/2011 10:10 AM
Open Door Health Services is marking National Health Center Week 2011 (NHCW) with a variety of events throughout the week, as part of a weeklong campaign (August 7-13) to raise awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s Health Centers as local solutions. The theme of this year’s NHCW is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Serving Locally, Leading Nationally,” to underscore how health centers deliver a unique approach that targets health needs and saves taxpayer dollars. They are strong partnerships of people, governments and communities who work together to meet the unique and diverse health conditions of the community. Although health centers rely on a portion of federal funding, they are not a bureaucracy. In fact, they are run from the bottom up, by a patient-majority governing board who guides how limited resources can be effectively directed to meet the health care needs of the community.
One of the bright spots in America’s health care system, health centers provide a health care home to over 23 million people at 8,000 sites nationwide. Their model of care was rated as one of the most effective programs by then-President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget. Indeed, presidents from both parties and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have long-recognized the value of health centers and supported their expansion. Health centers are on track to expand their care to 40 million people over the next five years. With more health care homes in communities, we can reduce health care costs and unnecessary hospitalizations and visits to the hospital emergency rooms. According to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), there are 60 million people in the country with limited or no access to primary care providers – a trend that shows no sign of improving with the economic recession.
“Every day in our waiting rooms I witness the value of having a health care home,” said Toni Estep, CEO. “When people have a place to go for regular care, they use it and stay healthier. We provide a range of services onsite – primary care services, pediatrics, dentistry, even behavioral health services. Our patients not only get the care they need at one organization, but they are treated as individuals, with dignity and respect. This is what health care should be, and what we celebrate during National Health Center Week.”
Now more than ever public support is needed for health centers as Congress attempts to reduce the budget deficit with spending cuts to the program and changes to Medicaid that could further reduce access to preventive care for millions of people. To find out more, please visit www.nachc.org.
To find out more about National Health Center Week, visit www.healthcenterweek.org