America’s Health Centers: Rooted in Communities
National Health Center Week, August 4-10, 2019
National Health Center Week is held every August to bring awareness to the importance of community health centers like HopeHealth for our communities. The week includes events throughout the country to highlight the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers and encourage people to support their local community health centers.
This year, HopeHealth, along with the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Health Center Advocacy Network, invites you to celebrate the ways that health centers are Rooted in Communities, by visiting one of our Florence, Clarendon, or Williamsburg County locations on Advocacy Wednesday, Aug. 7, to discover how HopeHealth and other community health centers are rooted in your community and sign up to be an advocate for CHCs across the nation.
How “rooted in community” are community health centers? The answer is, deeply. In 2017 alone, community health centers brought essential, quality health care to areas where it may otherwise not exist for more than 28 million people. Health centers produce innovative solutions to the most pressing health care issues in our communities and reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine to address the community health needs; communities like Greeleyville, S.C., where HopeHealth provided care for nearly 4,000 people in the surrounding area last year. In the three counties HopeHealth serves as a community health center, more than 42,000 of your coworkers, family members, friends, and acquaintances have chosen to make HopeHealth their medical home.
“The advantages of a primary care home are much like playing football in your home stadium. You get to know your provider and your care team, and, more importantly, your providers get to know you and your health history,” said Dr. Edward Behling, HopeHealth chief medical officer. “Continuous care at a primary care home builds a long-term relationship between you and your provider that can help reveal ongoing health issues that might otherwise go unrecognized at a single doctor’s office visit. Such relationships lead to better communications and disease management, less risk of complications, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer visits to an emergency department.”
The roots of a community health center blossom beyond the care individuals receive from their care teams. According to NACHC, such centers created more that $54.6 billion (yes, billion) in total economic activity in 2017 alone, and, for every $1 invested solely in federal Health Center Program funding, health centers collectively generated $5.73 in total economic activity across the nation. In South Carolina 23 health centers generated $5.13 for every dollar and had a $855 million economic impact that includes more than 3,400 full time jobs at the centers and more than 3,700 indirect jobs in their communities.
The health center employees are also rooted in your community. They are the mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters of your neighbors. They are your neighbors. They are the people who you sit next to at your daughter’s basketball game, see grabbing a lunch at the local barbecue joint, getting their hair cut at the main street barber shop, or buying gas at the corner station. They are your community.
While National Health Center Week provides a time to focus on those ways we are rooted in our community, advocating for health centers is a year-round effort. Those unable to visit HopeHealth during Advocacy Wednesday can still show their support by signing up as an advocate at hcadvocacy.org. Periodically, advocates are asked to help reach out to legislative representatives regarding bills and initiatives that impact our centers and, in turn, our communities.
Ways you can support your community health center include:
- Making a community health center your health care home
- Choosing a community health center provider as your primary care physician
- Becoming a community health center advocate
- If you are a health center patient, using your center’s 340b pharmacies partners when filling prescriptions. HopeHealth’s pharmacy partners can be found on our website at hope-health.org/pharmacy, or listed in any patient room
Currently, advocates are asked to helped communicate the importance of keeping health centers funded beyond the Sept. 30, 2019, funding cliff. While health centers have enjoyed bi-partisan support for their more than 50 years, funding is set to expire Sept. 30. Join us on Advocacy Wednesday or visit hcadvocacy.org to sign up as an advocate to support community health centers.
For more on the benefits of community health centers, visit the National Association of Community Health Centers at nachc.org or the SC Primary Health Care Association at scphca.org.