National Health Center Week 2022: Community Health Center Mission

National Health Center Week, an annual celebration to raise awareness of the accomplishments of community health centers, will be held August 7-13. Join us in celebrating the enduring mission of health centers!
National Health Center Week (NHCW), held August 7-13 this year, is an annual celebration to raise awareness of the mission of community health centers and recognize their accomplishments. As NHCW 2022 approaches, we are reflecting on the enduring nature of the health center mission and how health centers create conditions for their patients and communities to thrive.  
What is a community health center?
Federally qualified community health centers (FQCHs), more commonly known as community health centers, are federally funded primary care clinics that provide comprehensive services to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay for care. Community health centers not only provide access to medical care for vulnerable populations, but they also address the non-medical drivers of poor health in their communities. 
Why were community health centers created? 
Community health centers have been in existence for than 50 years with roots in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. The first community health centers were established by Dr. H Jack Geiger and Dr. Count Gibson in a public housing project in Boston, Massachusetts and a Mound Bayou, Mississippi, a rural part of the Mississippi Delta.1

The first health centers were founded not only to provide medical care to folks who would otherwise not have access, but to address the non-medical drivers of poor health in their communities. The Mound Bayou health center responded to such as poverty, poor sanitation, food and housing insecurity, and inaccessible education and economic opportunities that led to poor health outcomes among the area's predominantly black population. Responding to these needs, the center began writing prescription for food to be filled at local grocery stores, developed a farm co-op and dug wells and installed water pumps to provide access to clean water.2 
How are community health centers carrying on the mission? 
Today, more than 1,4000 community health centers extend the legacy of community health centers across the country to care for than 29 million patients.3 In Tennessee, 30 health center organizations serve as the health care home for 415,000 patients in urban and rural areas of the state.4  

Tennessee's health centers provide an array of services including integrated care which means folks can visit a health center and receive medical, behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment, dental, pharmacy services, and more all under one roof. Health centers also address barriers to care through non-medical services and programs that help patients access transportation, housing, nutritious foods, employment resources, and critical supplies such as diapers and schools supplies as well as connect patients with health insurance, and a variety of benefits.  

As we celebrate the mission of community health centers, we invite you to become a community health center advocate to ensure health centers can carry on their mission for years to come.  
[1]  History of Community Health Centers. (2022). Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. Retrieved from
[2]  Against The Odds. (2022). National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from
[3]  What is a Community Health Center. (2022). Retrieved from 
[4]  Tennessee Health Center Program Uniform Data System (UDS) Data. (2022). Retrieved from 



Upcoming Events

View All Events