The theme for this years National Health Center Week of August 9-15 is “Community Health Centers: Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future.” The reason for having an annual celebration for community health centers is to raise awareness about their mission and accomplishments. The goals are special for this year, too. They include celebrating and honoring the front-line providers, the staff and the patients who lost their lives in our current COVID-19 pandemic.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, many community health centers have been providing telehealth services to their patients, in addition to their in-office services. Telehealth can be made available for not only regular medical needs, but also urgent care and behavioral health services.
In case you’re not familiar with what a community health center is, let me give you some background. Five decades long is the timeline for the existence of community health centers. Community health centers are in high-need communities serving populations with limited access to health care. Many are recognized as an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center); FQHCs are held to the highest standards of regulations under the federal government. Some are called FQHC Look-Alikes which means they don’t receive grant funding but may receive many of the same benefits. Many community health centers have also achieved PCMH (patient-centered medical home) recognition.
Community health centers provide a safety net for people who might not otherwise have access to these services. Many have a sliding scale fee based on income and household size. Some provide supportive services such as transportation, education and translation services. Community health centers are committed to providing a range of affordable family health services. Many are a kind of “one-stop shopping” with a multidisciplinary health care team and may also provide women’s health services, child and adolescent health, behavioral health, dental health, laboratory services, radiology, and have pharmacies on-site. All are caring for the underserved in their communities by providing health care to those who need it.
Each day of the week for August 2020 has a special focus:
- Sunday, 8/9: Public Health in Housing Day
- Monday, 8/10: Healthcare for the Homeless Day
- Tuesday, 8/11: Agricultural Worker Health Day
- Wednesday, 8/12: Patient Appreciation Day
- Thursday, 8/13: Stakeholder Appreciation Day
- Friday, 8/14: Health Center Staff Appreciation Day
- Saturday, 8/15: Children’s Health Day
As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, remember how our community health centers provide high-quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care to the communities they serve.