By Ken Burdick
It’s National Health Center Week, a time to recognize and raise awareness for our nation’s community health centers.
What makes these centers such a growing, critical resource?
- A focus on treating underserved populations. Community health centers offer accessible, affordable and comprehensive primary care services to more than 1 in 12 Americans in need, from low income, minority and homeless individuals to seniors, families and children.
- Integrated services all “under one roof.” It’s not uncommon to find medical, dental, mental health and substance abuse services located in one center. This serves as a significant benefit for individuals who lack access to transportation or other services. Centers also enable access to social and human services such as food, housing, WIC, financial assistance and more.
- Improved population health. With 10,400 urban and rural locations nationwide, community healthcare centers in nearly all sites help improve quality of life for patients. In fact, community health center patients have fewer low birth weight babies and higher rates of diabetes and blood pressure control compared to the national average.
While community health centers are integral to improving population health, they are also vital to managing overall healthcare costs. These centers save approximately $24 billion per year by reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
In honor of National Health Center Week, WellCare partnered in our communities to drive additional awareness. We joined forces with the Family Health Centers of Georgia to support mothers by distributing diapers, baby wipes and other healthy baby items, and in Hawaii, we’re partnering with Bay Clinic to support a Healthcare for the Homeless Day where ‘Ohana Health Plan associates are managing a clothing drive for those in need. We’re also hosting events in Missouri, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina to show our support.
Let’s rally together to raise awareness and keep our community healthcare centers at the forefront of healthcare discussions so that they can remain open and accessible for all.
Our nation’s neediest populations are depending on us.
Kenneth A. Burdick is the CEO of WellCare Health Plans