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Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Our Healthcare Heroes

Celebrating National Health Center Week, HRSA Administrator George Sigounas says community health centers protect and promote the health of America.

I wouldn’t be here today if not for this health center. I didn’t realize all the help they offer and how many people use them until I became a patient … The staff has always treated me with the utmost respect. I can never thank them enough. I’ll have a place in my heart for these folks for the rest of my life.” -Phillip, a patient at a health center in Virginia

For Phillip and more than 27 million other adults and children across the country, health centers provide affordable, high-quality and patient-centered primary healthcare that would otherwise be out of their reach.

Health centers use a holistic approach to patient care, treating the entire person by integrating mental health, oral health, substance use disorder and primary medical care services. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds nearly 1,400 health centers operating more than 11,000 service delivery sites in communities across the country.   

Health centers improve their community’s health by focusing on access and quality. In 2017, 92 percent of health centers met or exceeded one or more of the nation’s Healthy People 2020 goals for their patients. Health centers exceeded national averages for patients with good control of their diabetes and for hypertensive patients with well-controlled blood pressure.

Health centers increasingly provide a gateway to integrated care for individuals with substance use disorder, mental health and primary care needs. HRSA support enhances access to substance use disorder services, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and pain management services.  The number of health center clinicians providing MAT increased by 75 percent, from 1,700 in 2016 to nearly 3,000 in 2017. Additionally, 90 percent of health centers provide mental health services.

More than 220,000 hardworking, dedicated primary care providers, nurses, dentists, social workers, health educators and other staff provide quality healthcare for their patients regardless of their ability to pay.

We want to be the clinic that says, “We can help you.” Whatever the problem you come through the door with, my doctors, my nurses, my providers can say, “We can take care of that here today. We will not give up on you. We will work with you.” Whether it be substance abuse, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol issues… all these aspects of care … we want to work with our patients and make sure any barriers to quality care are cut down. - Van Breeding, MD, a family physician at a health center in Kentucky

During this National Health Center Week, HRSA is proud to recognize health centers across our country and the important work they do every week to protect and promote the health of America. To the thousands of providers and staff like Dr. Breeding, who dedicate their lives to helping patients like Phillip, we thank you for making a difference in your communities. You are America’s healthcare heroes!

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