National Health Center Week 2022: Non-Medical 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 non-medical services that expand access to care and improve patients' health. Read on to learn more about non-medical services:
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 non-medical services offered by community health centers. 
How do non-clinical factors influence health and well-being? 
Medical care accounts for a small portion of a person's overall health and is estimated to contribute to 10-20% of a person's overall health. The remaining factors that influence health are commonly referred to as social determinants of health. According to the World Health Organization, social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, raised, live, work, and age, along with the forces and systems that shape daily life.1  Social determinants of health can influence health in positive or negative ways and include factors such as housing and food security status, environmental conditions, economic conditions including employment status, and education.2 There is increasing emphasis on addressing the social risk factors people experience, which are negative outcomes that are associated with poor health such as housing insecurity and food insecurity.3 
What are enabling services? 
Community health centers approach care holistically, recognizing the health and well-being of their patients is affected by factors outside of the medical care they provide within the clinic walls. Health centers offer enabling services to help address the needs of their patients, which are non-clinical services that expand access to care and improve health outcomes.4 Enabling services vary from one center to another but generally include a core set of services such as transportation assistance, access to nutritious foods, and case management to connect folks to the programs and resources they need.  
What non-medical services do health centers provide? 
Health centers tailor enabling service to best serve the need of their community and break down barriers to care. Certain health centers offer their own transportation for patients to get them to and from appointments at the health center, and even take them to appointments with specialists.  
Beyond increasing access to care, health centers address the factors that shape health outcomes such as housing and food. All health centers care for people experiencing homelessness, but many have more specialized programs, and a few operate shelters for folks experiencing homelessness. Health centers also help folks experiencing housing insecurity with other community organizations that can serve them. Several community health centers in Tennessee address food insecurity for their patients by operating food banks within their clinics or partnering with local organizations to ensure patients have immediate access to nutritious foods- at least one health center directly delivers food to patients.  
Health centers also equip patients with resources and tools to improve aspects of their health whether that is physical or financial. Many health centers also offer workshops and classes on a variety of topics. For example, one health center offers a support program for families that incorporates therapies such as yoga, meditation, and other stress relieving techniques while another health center provides classes on financial empowerment. 
Health centers are responsive to the needs of their communities and are often best equipped to offer services beyond medical care. One example of how health centers meet community is can be found in a center that operates one of the only federally funded black lung clinics in the country, a shelter for survivors of interpersonal violence, and a recovery court program.  
How can you help? 
Community health centers address the myriad factors that influence health and well-being, caring for their patients beyond the clinic walls. Become a health center advocate to ensure that health centers can continue to provide holistic care that not only meets medical needs but addresses conditions that shape health. 
[1] Social determinants of health. (2022). World Health Organization. Retrieved from
[2] Ibid.
[3] When Talking About Social Determinants, Precision Matters | Health Affairs Forefront. (2019). Health Affairs. Retrieved from 
[4] Health Center Program Terms and Definitions. Health Resources and Services Administration. Retrieved from



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