The community health center model is uniquely designed to address the health care needs of vulnerable and underserved people and communities. The health center model is groundbreaking, demonstrating solutions to some of our country’s most persistent health care problems. This model has proven successful at:
- Reducing health disparities
- Improving health outcomes
- Lowering infant mortality rates
- Reducing chronic disease
- Empowering communities
- Creating jobs and other investments in rural and urban neighborhoods
- Producing cost-savings for the entire health care system by reducing the need for specialty and hospital care
The Need: Answering the Call for Care
Community health centers are driven by the goal of ensuring access to affordable health care in their communities. Health centers are increasingly a safety net for uninsured patients from all walks of life - the number of uninsured patients at Washington health centers increased by 42%, or 59,000 people, between 2000 and 2004.
The Care: Meeting & Exceeding Patient Needs
Health centers put their arms around the whole patient, treating today’s conditions, while anticipating and heading off the problems of tomorrow.
- A Medical Home. Community health centers encourage a regular doctor-patient relationship, the bedrock of effective health care.
- One Stop Shopping. Community health centers provide almost all of the health care services a family needs in one place, including pediatric care, chronic disease management, routine physicals, dental care, maternity services and on-site pharmacies.
- An Ounce of Prevention. Preventive care improves long-term patient health and heads off expensive health care conditions. CHCs provide cancer screenings, immunizations, smoking cessation, counseling, and nutrition counseling.
- Keeping Chronic Conditions at Bay. Health centers provide both the insured and the uninsured with evidence-based disease management programs for some of the most expensive and debilitating medical conditions, including diabetes, asthma, hypertension, depression and cardiovascular illnesses.
The Bottom Line: Better Health, Lower Costs
The community health center investment in quality primary and preventive care pays off, both in terms of patient health outcomes and cost efficiency. This investment also yields substantial returns to the entire health care system.