By: George Sigounas MS, Ph.D., Administrator, Health Resources and Service Administration
Henry, a veteran from Baltimore, experienced post-traumatic stress disorder with terrifying nightmares, mental health issues, and drug addiction. Then he found Chase Brexton, a health center near his home. Chase Brexton not only helped Henry better manage his health, it made him feel like he’s in a family. “I’ve been an addict for well over 20 years,” he said. “If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, come to Chase Brexton.”
For Henry and millions more across the country, health centers like Chase Brexton provide affordable, high-quality and patient-centered primary health care that would otherwise be out of their reach. Health centers use a holistic approach to patient care, treating the entire person by integrating behavioral health, oral health and primary care services. Nearly 1,400 health centers operating more than 10,400 sites in communities across America are funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). They provided care to nearly 26 million people in 2016.
In fact, one in 12 people across every U.S. state and territory rely on health centers to be their source of health care. They see one or more of the health centers’ 200,000+ staff, who help them stay healthy through preventive care like immunizations, cancer screenings, and tobacco cessation, as well as educational services on nutrition and physical activity.
These hardworking and dedicated health care providers improve the nation’s and their community’s health by focusing on access, quality and cost. Health centers exceed national averages for:
Patients with good control of their diabetes,
Hypertensive patients with well controlled blood pressures,
Pediatric patients who receive weight assessment and counseling for healthy weight, and
Patients screened for depression.
As a result of this comprehensive, quality care, health centers also reduce costs to health systems by decreasing the use of costlier providers of care, such as emergency departments and hospitals. A recent study demonstrated that health center Medicaid patients had lower overall use and spending than non-health center patients across all services.
This National Health Center Week, we recognize health centers across our country and their important work to protect and promote the health of America. To the thousands of providers and staff who dedicate their lives to helping patients like Henry access quality health care, we thank you for making a difference in your communities. Patients like Henry are just one of your many success stories and the care he received was the key to making him feel like a new man. As Henry said, “Percentage-wise, when I came here, I was like a 40. Now sitting here, I’m 100 percent.”