National Health Center Week 2022: Health Center Services

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 services provided by community health centers!
National Health Center Week (NHCW) 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 medical services offered by community health centers. 
What does comprehensive health care look like at community health centers? 
Community health centers provide comprehensive preventive and primary care services to all folks that come through their doors, regardless of health insurance status or ability to pay for care. Health centers integrate primary care services with services such as behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment, dental care, and pharmacy. Community health centers take a whole person approach to health, recognizing that overall health and well-being is influenced by mental health, oral health, and other social and economic factors. 
Primary Care  
Health centers provide a range of primary care services to their patients, caring for folks across their lifespans. Community health centers provide higher rates of preventive care than other primary care providers when it comes to hypertension, asthma education, tobacco cessation, health education, immunizations for certain groups, and critical cancer screenings.1 Health centers also provide patients with the tools and resources they need to manage chronic condition. Health centers achieve higher rates of control of chronic conditions than the national average despite having patients with more complex conditions.2 Fifty-eight percent of health center patients' hypertension is controlled compared to 26% nationally and 64% of health center patients' diabetes compared to 19% nationally.3  
Dental Care 
Health centers recognize that oral health is closely tied to overall health and well-being. Nationally, 82% of community health centers offer dental service on site.4 More than half (55%) of Tennessee's operate dental services at their clinics.5 Recent dental coverage expansions in Tennessee have led to more health centers preparing to offer dental on-site or expand current services. 

Tennessee recently began offering dental benefits for pregnant and post-partum women with TennCare coverage, the state's Medicaid program.6 Beginning in 2023, TennCare will also cover dental benefits for all adults covered by the program.7 The state's FY23 budget also made significant investments from the Department of Health to support additional slots at the state's dental schools, provide loan repayment options for providers, among other investments in dental care.8  
Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment 
Health centers provide integrated behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment under one roof. If a patient is seen for a primary care appointment at a health center and the provider identifies a behavioral health need, the patient can be connected with a mental health provider the same day. By co-locating primary care and behavioral health, health centers address the stigma that can be associated with seeking care for mental health or substance use disorder treatment. 

In the past 10 years, health centers have seen a more than 600% increase in patients seeking substance use disorder treatment.9 Tennessee's health centers have also reported increased demand for behavioral health services in response to the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many health centers provide substance use disorder treatment, and some utilize Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT). MAT relies on medications to mitigate the effects of withdrawal along with intensive counseling.10 In Tennessee, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are permitted to prescribe buprenorphine in certain settings, including health centers to expand access to opioid use disorder treatment amidst the opioid epidemic. 
Specialized Care and Public Health Threats 
Although all health centers provide core primary care services, health centers also vary their offerings depending on the needs of their communities and public health threats. For example, some health centers offer x-ray and lab services on site. Others, especially those in rural areas have started offering more urgent care services and treating conditions such as overdoses, lacerations, and OB patients.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers quickly pivoted operations to expand telehealth services and were amongst the first providers to offer COVID-19 tests and administer vaccines. Tennessee's health centers have provided more than 423,000 tests and completed more than 57,600 vaccines.11 
How You Can Help
Community health centers rely on a whole-person approach to care, ensuring all patients can achieve physical and mental wellness. Become a health center advocate to ensure that health centers can continue to offer the comprehensive services patients need to thrive. 
[1]  Community Health Center Chartbook 2022. (2022). Retrieved from
[2]  Ibid.
[3]  Ibid.
[4]  Ibid.
[5]  Ibid.
[6]  TennCare Increases Health Care Benefits for Pregnant and Postpartum Women. (2022). Retrieved from 
[7]  Blake Farmer, N. (2022). Tennessee Offers to Expand Dental Schools as Medicaid Coverage Stretches Need. Retrieved from
[8]  Ibid.
[9]  Community Health Center Chartbook 2022. (2022). Retrieved from
[10]  Medication-Assisted Treatment. (2022). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from
[11]  Interactive Dashboard, Total and Weekly COVID-19 and Vaccination Numbers by State. (2022). Retrieved from 



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