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2021 NHCW: Get to Know Community Health Center Patients

 
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.  
 
Who are health center patients? 
Community health centers serve more than 30 million patients nationwide, or 1 in 11 people in the United States.1 More than 434,000 patients have chosen Tennessee health centers as their health care home.2 Each health center's patient population is unique, and health centers tailor services and support to best care for their communities, but patients share many characteristics that shape their health and well-being.
 
Caring for patients across the lifespan 
Community health centers care for patients across their lifespan from birth, into childhood, adulthood, and advanced age. The majority, 65.1% of Tennessee's health center patients are adults between 18-64 years old, although 23.6% are children and 11.4% are adults aged 65 and older.3 Patients aged 65 and older are the fastest growing age group finding care at community health centers.4  
 
Caring for racial and ethnic minorities 
Nationally, health center patients are disproportionately members of racial and ethnic minorities.5 In Tennessee, 42% of patients are racial and ethnic minorities.6 Health centers provide culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate care to all patients, which may include services such as language interpretation, community outreach, and peer education and support. 
 
Caring for patients regardless of insurance or income 
By mission and statute, health centers care for all patients that come through their doors regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for care. Nearly one-third (32.6%) of health center patients in Tennessee are uninsured, 31.2% are covered by Medicaid, 13% are covered by Medicare, and 23.2% are covered by other insurance. In Tennessee, 93.1% of patients have income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and 72% have incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. To ensure all patients can afford high-quality health care, health centers offer a sliding fee scale for payment based on a patient's income.  
 
Caring for patients with chronic conditions 
Community health center patients tend to experience higher rates of chronic conditions than the general population.7 The community health center care model relies on care teams composed of different providers working together to help patients manage conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure by offering holistic services such as assistance with nutrition and health education. Compared to other providers, health centers achieve higher rates of diabetes and hypertension control.
 
Caring for special populations 
Health centers provide expert care for vulnerable populations including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, folks living in public housing, and our nation's veterans. Tennessee's health centers care for more than 25,000 patients experiencing homelessness, 6,900 agricultural workers, 67,000 patients living in public housing, and 6,400 veterans.8 Health centers develop programs and services to specifically address the needs of these patient populations.  
 
During National Health Center Week, held from August 8-14, we honor community health center patients for trusting community health centers with their health and well-being. 
 
 
 
[1] Community Health Center Chartbook. 2021. https://www.nachc.org/research-and-data/research-fact-sheets-and-infographics/2021-community-health-center-chartbook/.
[2] Tennessee Health Center Data.2019 Uniform Data System, BPHC, HRSA, DHHS.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Community Health Center Chartbook. 2021. https://www.nachc.org/research-and-data/research-fact-sheets-and-infographics/2021-community-health-center-chartbook/
[5] Ibid.
[6] Tennessee Health Center Data.2019 Uniform Data System, BPHC, HRSA, DHHS
[7] Ibid.
[8] Tennessee Health Center Data.2019 Uniform Data System, BPHC, HRSA, DHHS.
 

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