National Health Center Week is from August 7 to 13. As we do every August, Rogue Community Health is taking this time to promote the important work that community health centers across the country are doing: providing preventive and primary care services to nearly 29 million people.
Community health centers provide services to people who disproportionately suffer from chronic illnesses and lack access to affordable, quality care. Although the focus is community-based and local, collectively, community health centers are the backbone of the country’s primary care system. Community health centers reduce national health care costs on the order of $24 billion annually, reduce rates of chronic disease, and stimulate local economies.
At Rogue Community Health, we offer medical services regardless of insurance or income status virtually and at four Rogue Valley locations, as well as dental, pediatric and behavioral health centers. For those facing hardship, we offer support in applying for insurance through the Oregon Health Plan or appropriate alternatives, as well as connecting people with relevant resources, such as food and benefit assistance, food services addiction and recovery and transitional housing for those affected by wildfires.
Community health centers not only address medical issues, but are innovative in looking beyond a patient’s history to address the factors that can cause poor health, such as poverty, homelessness, substance use , mental illness, malnutrition and unemployment. They are a critical piece of the health care system and collaborate with hospitals, state and local governments, and health and social organizations to improve health outcomes for people who are medically vulnerable.
As COVID-19 took its toll, like many health centers, Rogue Community Health adapted its services to increase telehealth and virtual visit options. We also responded with extensive outreach to ensure the community stayed informed and could access care with minimal disruption. While the pandemic has been difficult to navigate, it has forced us to examine how we are and serve our community and laid the foundation for a more flexible and accessible approach that will continue to benefit our members.
To protect the services provided by community health centers, it is important to continue to engage state and federal representatives to ensure stable funding to keep our doors open and close the growing access gap for medically vulnerable communities. Congress must act so that CHCs continue to serve as health homes.
Show your support during National Health Center Week. We are here for you whenever you need us.
Alison Waldron is the marketing coordinator for Rogue Community Health.