Michigan Community Health Centers – the place “Where Access and Quality Care Begin” for people in our state – will join the rest of America’s more than 1,200 Community Health Centers on Sunday in kicking off National Health Center Week 2009 (August 9-15, 2009).
The theme of the week, “Where Access and Quality Care Begin,” highlights the role of Health Centers as “health care homes” for 20 million people in America, providing primary and preventive care and a range of services from dental to pharmacy to translation. Michigan Community Health Centers serve over half a million patients in communities across the state each year – a number that is increasing due to the rising unemployment rate that reached 15.2% in June, and an increasing number of uninsured during the economic downturn. Health Center patients pay on an income-based sliding fee scale; no one is turned away, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
National Health Center Week Events – including health fairs, media events, and visits to Community Health Centers by local, state, and national leaders – are taking place at many Community Health Centers across the state next week. You can find a list of those events at healthcenterweek.org. Two days are set aside to focus on special populations: Health Care for the Homeless Day will be observed on Wednesday, August 12, and Farmworker Health Day will be observed on Thursday, August 13.
“Everyone should have the choice of a Community Health Center as their health care home,” said Kim Sibilsky, Executive Director, Michigan Primary Care Association. “Michigan Community Health Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive services that emphasize primary care and wellness so that families can stay healthy and out of hospitals. National Health Center Week is a time to spread the message that we need to invest in an accessible and affordable community health system that has already been proven to reduce disparities, improve health, and achieve cost savings.”
The spotlight comes at a time when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has made increased access to care possible. Community Health Centers were among the first recipients of stimulus funding earlier this year; to-date, 29 Michigan Community Health Centers have received a total of nearly $35 million in ARRA funding to provide care for 67,639 additional patients, including 27,621 uninsured patients, and create or retain 257 jobs.
Michigan Primary Care Association is releasing a new report on August 10 to show how each of these Health Centers is using stimulus funding to meet the significant increase in demand for primary health care services among uninsured and underserved members of their community, expand access to care, and retain or stimulate jobs. The report also shows that continued investment is needed to sustain and build on the great strides that have already been made. You can also learn more about how Community Health Centers are using stimulus funds by accessing the National Association of Community Health Center’s new interactive map at www.nachc.com/stimulus.
Long-term, Health Centers are envisioned as a major part of the solution for providing care to the 60 million people in the United States who are – according to a report by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) – medically disenfranchised. A Health Center plan called ACCESS for All America has the goal of preserving, strengthening and expanding Health Centers, ultimately providing affordable, high-quality care to all medically underserved.
For more information about National Health Center Week, visit www.healthcenterweek.org. To access the report, Stimulus Funding for Community Health Centers: The Right Medicine at the Right Time, But Not the Cure, on August 10 go to www.mpca.net.