Michigan Health Centers are marking National Health Center Week 2012 (NHCW) with nearly 50 events as part of a weeklong campaign (August 5-11) to raise awareness about the vital services and accomplishments of America’s Health Centers as local health care solutions.
The theme of this year’s NHCW is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Powering Healthier Communities.” It underscores the many ways Health Centers are “powering” and “empowering” healthier communities from coast to coast.
“Community Health Centers make quality care available to hundreds of thousands of patients across Michigan who would otherwise go without it, and they employ thousands of people statewide. That is why I have led efforts to help give families access to critical care at 21 new Community Health Centers in Michigan, including five new centers announced just this year. National Health Center Week is a great reminder of the difference Community Health Centers make in the lives of so many,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
For over 45 years Health Centers have been a bright spot in America’s health care system, and today they are the health care home for over 20 million people, including more than 600,000 Michigan residents. Their services range from medical primary and preventive care, to dental care, behavioral health care, and pharmacy services. They also offer services that help patients overcome barriers to accessing health care, such as transportation, translation, eligibility enrollment assistance, and case management.
The services a Health Center offers are responsive to community need because each of America’s Health Centers is governed by a patient-majority community board of directors. This board guides how limited resources can be effectively directed to ensure community residents have access to the care they need, when they need it, and where they need it.
Not only are Health Centers health care providers, they are also community-directed and operated businesses that address the health and well-being of entire communities. They employ more than 138,000 staff nationwide and generate tremendous economic benefits for the communities they serve. By purchasing goods and services from local businesses, and engaging in capital development projects, Michigan Health Centers generated over $566 million in total economic benefits for Michigan communities in 2009.
Due to the highly successful Health Center model of care, Presidents and Governors from both parties, and Members of Congress and State Legislators on both sides of the aisle have long-recognized the value of Health Centers as improving health and producing cost savings, and they have supported their expansion. However, despite the tremendous growth of Health Centers through the years, it is estimated that 60 million people in the United States still have limited or no access to primary care providers.
With more health care homes in communities, we can further reduce health care costs and unnecessary hospitalizations and visits to the hospital emergency rooms by ensuring patients have a regular source of care. For many people, a Health Center may be the only source of health care services available.
“Studies show when illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and depression are not appropriately managed or prevented, they account for a significant portion of the skyrocketing costs for families and the entire health care system,” said Kim Sibilsky, Executive Director, Michigan Primary Care Association. “America’s Health Centers, like those in Michigan, have been leaders in showing the value of this approach as an effective way to address more needs, improve health, and contain costs. Health Center patients not only get the care they need under one roof, but they are treated as individuals, with dignity and respect, and in a culturally appropriate setting and in a language patients can understand. This is what health care should be, and what we celebrate during National Health Center Week.”
Now more than ever public awareness and support is needed for Health Centers as Congress attempts to reduce the budget deficit with spending cuts to the program and changes to Medicaid that could further reduce access to preventive care for millions of people. To find out more, please visit www.nachc.org. To learn more out more about National Health Center Week, visit www.healthcenterweek.org. To learn more about Michigan Health Centers, visit www.mpca.net.