Celebrating Community Health Centers — Home of America’s Health Care Heroes
By Robin Affrime
National Health Center Week, celebrated August 12 through 18 in communities throughout America, recognizes the services and contributions that thousands of community health centers across the nation have made for more than a half a century. As some of the brightest stars in America’s health care system, our nation’s community health centers have compiled an impressive record of success since the federal program was signed into law in the mid-1960s. Community Health Centers, including CommuniCare Health Centers here in Yolo County, are on the front lines dealing with complex problems that no one wants to think about – the devastating opioid crisis, increasing need for mental health services and the growing problem of obesity in economically challenged neighborhoods – health conditions that, if left unchecked, end up in hospital emergency rooms for costly treatment. In fact, community health centers across the nation are producing $24 billion in annual savings to the nation’s health system by helping to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the emergency room while generating $26.5 billion in economic activity and creating over 230,000 jobs.
Most important is the success health centers have demonstrated in providing health care solutions that work and consistently increase access to affordable, high quality, cost-effective health care for everyone, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for care. Our success comes from not only preventing illness and fostering wellness in our most vulnerable populations but also through implementing innovative programs and services within our clinics and reaching beyond our walls to address the factors that cause sicknesses, such as cultural and social isolation, mental illness, homelessness, and addiction.
This past year, CommuniCare Health Centers provided over 116,000 patient visits for more than 23,600 individuals – about one in every nine residents of Yolo County. All the services offered in our health centers are conveniently located in a welcoming, patient-centered environment – integrating primary medical care, dental care, pediatrics, perinatal services, mental health and substance abuse treatment, health education, and patient support services. CommuniCare also continues to positively impact the economy of Yolo County by employing 300 people at our clinic locations in Davis, Woodland, West Sacramento and Esparto and at our satellite sites in Yolo, Winters, and Dixon.
While there are countless reasons to celebrate America’s community health centers, one of our main reason is to recognize the many Health Care Heroes in our community who are so important to the healthcare successes we celebrate this week – our diligent and dedicated staff, the many professional and community volunteers, those who donate and those who continue to advocate on behalf of health centers and an equitable, affordable health care system for all.
I invite everyone to celebrate National Health Center Week by learning more about the success of our nation’s community health centers, and by visiting a health center in a community near you. Become a Health Care Hero and see for yourself how community health centers are at the leading edge of innovations that are transforming healthcare, positively impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of families and improving the health of patients of all ages. For more information, visit us online at www.communicarehc.org.