What is a Community Health Center?
Community Health Centers (CHC) are community-owned and operated public/private partnerships. By law, health centers service medically underserved areas – rural and urban communities with limited access to health care and a proven need and ability to impact poor health status. Community Health Centers provide services to those who other providers do not serve because of their high costs and complex health needs. The sites serve the working poor and uninsured as well as vulnerable and high-risk populations; such as pregnant women, migrant farm workers, the homeless, the disabled, the frail elderly and others.
How do CHCs Differ from Other Providers?
Few federal programs have made a significant contribution to low income families, as cost effectively and with such high quality, as Community Health Centers. There are many characteristics that distinguish health centers from most other health care providers. These include:
- Location in underserved neighborhoods
- Understanding and responding to their communities’ most urgent health care needs
- Caring for those whom other providers cannot or will not serve
- Commitment to offering case management ranging from medical and dental to counseling
- Availability of sliding fee scale, based on client’s ability to pay
- Major impact on the health of their communities in a highly cost effective manner
These characteristics make health centers extraordinarily effective providers for families and individuals otherwise isolated from medical care because of geographical, financial, or cultural barriers.