“I’ve heard of community health centers, but what do they actually do?”
When our team of nearly 180 employees at Open Door Health Services hears this question, it gives us the opportunity to explain what a community health center is, who we serve, and why centers like ours are vital to communities across the country. National Health Center Week, Aug. 12-18, is an especially fitting time to share our mission with the communities we serve.
Community health centers like Open Door are part of a nationwide network that is the family doctor to more than 27 million Americans. Also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers, we rely, in part, on federal funds designated for healthcare in medically underserved areas.
Community health centers look beyond medical charts to address factors that lead to poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use, mental illness, lack of nutrition, and unemployment. Whole-patient health is the core of our mission.
How does Open Door bring this mission to life in your community? You may already know we provide primary care, urgent care, dental care, family planning, and WIC services in East Central Indiana. Here are a few ways we dig even deeper to meet patients’ needs:
- While all insurance plans are accepted, including Medicaid and Medicare, lack of insurance is not a barrier to care at a community health center. A sliding fee scale also creates affordability.
- Integrated care is our passion and our charge. If an OB patient is ready to quit smoking, we can walk her over to our Baby and Me Tobacco Free team to enroll her in a smoking cessation program. If a parent tells a pediatrician she’s having trouble with a child’s car seat, our We Care team can provide a car seat safety check. If a dental patient shares concerns about his mental health, we can connect him on that same visit with a behavioral health professional just a few feet away.
- Open Door’s licensed Indiana Navigators will walk any community member through affordable insurance options and assist with enrollment. Our Navigators attend more than 200 outreach events in Delaware, Madison, and surrounding counties each year.
- Recognizing that transportation can create a barrier to healthcare for many residents, the Open Door Mobile Unit provides services directly in neighborhoods. This summer, students received school physicals and immunizations on the mobile unit at three neighborhood events. During the school year, the mobile unit operates at Muncie, Anderson, and county schools to provide students’ families and other residents healthcare right where they live and learn.
- Open Door is committed to creating access to nutritious food. In the summer, Muncie primary care patients are often greeted in the lobby by a cart of vegetables fresh from our employee-grown community garden. A public farmer’s market at the same location provides affordable produce in an area with limited options.
How can you help community health centers continue their critical work? Share a piece of this information with someone who’s hesitant to seek care, or with community organizations you’re part of. Donate to a health center. Be vocal with legislators about the need for continued funding.
During National Health Center Week, and every week, Open Door truly values your support as we honor our commitment to improving quality of life for our friends, family, and neighbors.