- What is National Health Center Week?
- Origins of National Health Center Week
- Each Day of NHCW 2022
- Public Health in Housing
- Healthcare for the Homeless
- Agricultural Worker Health
- Patient Appreciation
- Stakeholder Appreciation
- Health Center Staff Appreciation
- Children’s Health
- Final Thought
WHAT IS NATIONAL HEALTH CENTER WEEK?
National Health Center Week (August 7 – 13) is an annual celebration with the goal of raising awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers over the past five decades. Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, primary health care services to the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families, including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, residents of public housing, and veterans. Health centers integrate access to pharmacy, mental health, substance use disorder, and oral health services in areas where economic, geographic, or cultural barriers limit access to affordable health care. By emphasizing coordinated care management of patients with multiple health care needs and the use of key quality improvement practices, including health information technology, health centers reduce health disparities.
ORIGINS OF NATIONAL HEALTH CENTER WEEK
In 1965, the United States launched its first community health centers to improve the lives and well-being of Americans regardless of their ability to pay. These health centers were a key component of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ series of policy initiatives to eliminate poverty and racial injustice, and today serve as the bedrock on which our public health system was built. Today, health centers are one of the largest health care providers in the country and provide high-quality affordable, accessible, and value-based primary health care services to 29 million Americans each year—approximately 1 in 11 people across the country. They have also been a vital part of our Nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of National Health Center Week, we recognize the importance of federally-supported health centers and the role they play as a beacon of strength, service, and care in our communities.
EACH DAY OF NHCW 2022
Each day of NHCW 2022 is dedicated to a particular focus area:
- Sunday, 8/7: Public Health in Housing Day
- Monday, 8/8: Healthcare for the Homeless Day
- Tuesday, 8/9: Agricultural Worker Health Day
- Wednesday, 8/10: Patient Appreciation Day
- Thursday, 8/11: Stakeholder Appreciation Day
- Friday, 8/12: Health Center Staff Appreciation Day
- Saturday, 8/13: Children’s Health Day
PUBLIC HEALTH IN HOUSING
In today’s value-based care environment, organizations are accountable for improving health outcomes and lowering costs. To achieve these goals and succeed in such an environment, organizations need to better understand their patients to address both their clinical and non-clinical needs and impact the root causes of health, including patients’ health behaviors, health outcomes, and health costs. The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people live, work, play and age. They can encompass socioeconomic conditions, environmental conditions, institutional power, and social networks. Understanding patients’ social determinants will allow health centers to transform care with integrated services to meet the needs of their patients, address the social determinants of health, and demonstrate the value the bring to patients, communities and payers.
HEALTHCARE FOR THE HOMELESS
People who experience homelessness incur a number of health issues on the streets or in shelters, and being without housing can exacerbate current health conditions. People without homes endure higher rates of chronic and acute disease, behavioral health conditions, and other needs that make them particularly vulnerable to poor health, disability, and early death. HCH’s provides high-quality, comprehensive primary and behavioral health care, case management, outreach, and other supportive services to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Due to the nature of homelessness, services are intentionally provided in trauma-informed ways that provide healing, choice, safety, and trust while honoring consumers as partners in care and experts in their own lives.
AGRICULTURAL WORKER HEALTH DAY
Community health centers serve approximately 20% of the estimated 4.5 million Agricultural Workers in the United States. Health center staff members, community health workers, clinicians, executives, consumer board members, and agricultural worker advocates have come together to develop more effective strategies to increase access to care for migratory and seasonal agricultural workers and their families through the Ag Worker Access Campaign. The Campaign was launched in 2015 in partnership between the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and National Center for Farmworker Health (NCFH). The Campaign’s goal is to increase the number of Agricultural workers and their families served in health centers to 2 million. Migrant Health Program grantees and community health centers in general are critical to ensuring access to quality primary and preventive care for patients who might otherwise go without care.
By law, Community Health Center boards must be comprised of at least 51% community members. Community board members are individuals who live in the community served by the health center, are patients, and represent others who are served by the health center in terms of demographics such as race, ethnicity, and gender. The model works because it ensures that patients represent the needs and voice of the community. Today, we celebrate patients and community board members who keep health centers accountable and abreast of community needs.
Health centers have a proud tradition of support from both sides of the political aisle. Bipartisan support continues to be beneficial for advocacy and policy priorities. Legislative support on both sides is not limited to federal level, state and local support for health centers are also integral to their success. Enhance your National Health Center Week celebrations by engaging legislators and legislative staff. Whether it’s your Congressional delegation, your state legislators or your county/local officials, or their staff, NHCW provides an excellent opportunity to show your appreciation for policymakers at your health center.
HEALTH CENTER STAFF APPRECIATION
The incredible value Community Health Centers bring to their patients and community is because of the diligent work of health center staff and volunteers – individuals who are committed to providing high quality care to patients in need. Community Health Center staff and volunteers are dedicated to the Community Health Center Movement and deserve to be recognized.
More than 8 million children in the United States get their primary health care from a Community Health Center. Without a doubt, the timing of National Health Center Week lends itself well to engaging the youngest members of our communities as they prepare to return to school. From well-child checks to book drives to fun runs, health centers host events that will help children feel healthy, happy, and empowered now and in the future.
Routines are key to keeping healthy. Brushing teeth, washing hands, eating well, and exercising every day helps everyone grow and thrive. Routines, such as doctor and dentist checkups, ensure that families have the support, information, and care they need to help their kids stay well and healthy!
Health care is a right, not a privilege. Yet many people still struggle to obtain the medical services they need. Nearly 4 million Americans remain locked out of Medicaid expansion, and millions more find it difficult to afford prescription drugs, mental health services, and preventive screenings. Access to care is also often unequal — Black and Brown Americans, rural residents, American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, and low-income families consistently report lower rates of coverage and lesser access to primary care. Federally funded health centers meet these challenges head-on by providing medical services — particularly to communities of color, rural communities, and individuals living in poverty — through nearly 1,400 community-based organizations operating over 14,000 service delivery sites. Given that clinics operate under a patient-majority governing board, health centers ensure that decisions are being directly informed and made by those being served.
What are your thoughts about National Health Center Week? Was this topic informative? What major challenges do you think is being experienced in our healthcare system? What solutions do you think can be implemented to improve access to proper healthcare for everyone?