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2021 National Health Center Week

 
National Health Center Week, coming up August 8-14 this year, is an annual celebration to raise awareness of the mission of community health centers and recognize their accomplishments. As NHCW 2021 approaches, we are taking time to reflect on how health centers, their staff, and their patients each play a part in advancing the health center movement.  
 
The Community Health Center Movement 
Health centers grew out of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Dr. H. Jack Geiger and Dr. Count D. Gibson Jr. founded the nation's first community health centers in Mound Bayou, Mississippi., a rural area in the Mississippi Delta and in a public housing project in Dorchester, Massachusetts. These pioneering health centers tackled the most pressing needs of their communities that extended beyond medical care, including food insecurity, public sanitation, and economic conditions.1 

Today, nearly 1,400 community health centers carry on this legacy by providing care to underserved urban and rural communities across the United States. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), also known as community health centers, are non-profit organizations that provide comprehensive primary care to all patients that come through their doors, regardless of their health insurance status or ability to pay for care.  

Health centers are located in medically underserved areas and care for vulnerable populations including people experiencing homelessness, migratory and seasonal agricultural workers, veterans, and people living in public housing.  

Health centers address the preventive and primary care needs of their patients, but their services extend far beyond medical care. Health centers' integrated care model ensures patients can access services such as behavioral health, dental care, substance use disorder treatment, and pharmacy under one roof. To mitigate barriers to care, health centers also provide enabling services, including transportation, health education, and translation services.2 

More than 50 years since their inception, health centers continue to meet the evolving needs of their patients and improve the health and well-being of entire communities. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the capacity of health centers to care for the public's health- through testing and vaccinations while providing high-quality care to patients.  
 
How You Can Help 
You don't have to be a staff member or patient at a health center to support the mission of health centers in your community. By signing up to become a health center advocate, you will be notified about opportunities toto invest in community health centers. 
  
Sign up to become a health center advocate today!
 
 
 
 
[1] Institute for Alternative Futures. Community Health Centers Leveraging the Social Determinants of Health. Alexandria, VA. March 2012. Available from http://www.altfutures.org/pubs/leveragingSDH/IAF-CHCsLeveragingSDH.pdf

[2] "What Is A Health Center?", Bureau Of Primary Health Care, Last modified 2018, https://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/what-is-a-health-center/index.html.