By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist
InterCare Community Health Network recently celebrated 40 years of providing health care in southwest Michigan. The Health Center has grown since its beginnings in 1972, when it served three counties seasonally. Today it provides health care to residents in six Michigan counties year-round.
The organization celebrated its anniversary with a gala in November 2012, and a video, to commemorate contributions and achievements in the communities it serves. InterCare operates five Health Centers in Bangor, Benton Harbor, Eau Claire, Holland, and Pullman, a voucher location in Sparta, mobile medical and dental facilities, and 11 WIC locations. The organization has received numerous national and state recognitions, and is certified by the Joint Commission.
The health network, which serves nearly 60,000 patients a year, seeks to treat the whole person, according to Robin Mack, vice president of operations.
“Community health centers have more of an opportunity to evaluate and treat the whole person, instead of just the specific illness they are there for,” Mack said. “We consider their social economics, can they get to their appointment, and can they afford their medication. We bring many resources to bear to take care of the person as a whole.”
Velma Hendershott, InterCare’s president and CEO, said that without the Health Center providing care in the six-county service area, people lacking access to health care would be going to emergency rooms.
“We know that isn’t cost efficient and doesn’t provide continuity of care for the patient,” Hendershott said.
Hendershott grew up with InterCare after moving from Texas with her family and working in the fields beside her parents. Her mother was one of the early executive directors at InterCare, and the Health Center’s mission and purpose has been a part of Hendershott’s life since a very young age.
“We have a tremendous responsibility to grow and to expand, and get to a place where everyone that needs health care is receiving health care. The model of community health centers is one that works,” Hendershott said. “It’s cost effective and efficient; it’s quality, comprehensive care delivered with compassion, sensitivity, and cultural competency.”