President Barack Obama Issues Proclamation for National Health Center Week
President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation marking August 5th through 11th as National Health Center Week, 2012 (NHCW). In the Proclamation, the President praised the role of Community Health Centers. He highlighted their accomplishments in helping people “lead healthier lives,” and underscored how the Administration is “working to empower health centers with the resources they need to provide comprehensive, high-quality care for more individuals.”
“Health centers play a key role in bringing vital health care services to 20 million Americans from all walks of life. They lift up rural and urban neighborhoods alike, extending community based, patient directed care to those who need it most. Through their work, health centers strengthen our health care system by helping reduce emergency room visits and easing health care burdens for families across America,” he said. [Read full text of Presidential Proclamation]
The Presidential Proclamation kicked off the weeklong national campaign, with over 1,000 events from coast to coast scheduled to celebrate the health center mission and accomplishments. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, along with Health Resources and Services Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., today joined in the celebration by participating in a tele-town hall meeting hosted by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Secretary Sebelius emphasized to health center leaders, doctors, nurses, staff, board members and patients how expanding the “proven health center model” has been a “top priority” for the Obama Administration.
“When a community health center opens up or adds new services, the benefits can ripple through an entire community,” said Secretary Sebelius. “They are a place where mothers can take their children for dental checkups, where seniors can fill their prescriptions, where families turn when they need help finding a job or access to child care services, and so much more.” [Read the full text of the Secretary’s statement here]
Dr. Wakefield focused her remarks on the quality of primary care services that health centers provide. She noted a recent study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California-San Francisco which concluded that health centers demonstrated equal or better quality performance than private practices on ambulatory quality measures, despite serving patients with more chronic disease and socio-economic challenges.
NACHC also this week released new issue briefs to provide a more comprehensive look at the health center record of:
- Reducing income and ethnic health disparities nationwide, even in the poorest and most challenged communities,
- Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings,
- Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the ER, and
- Providing a system of preventive medicine that patients use regularly, thereby improving health outcomes.
The issue briefs describe how the successful health center model of care is tied to how they are run. Federal law requires they be governed by patient-majority boards, which ensures accountability to the surrounding community, funding sources and the American taxpayer. Health centers also go beyond the reach of traditional medicine by addressing the social determinants that can cause poor health – meaning factors such as poverty, nutrition, inadequate housing, or lack of education.
To view the new NACHC fact sheets please visit this link.
To learn more about National Health Center Week and the schedule of events, please visit www.healthcenterweek.org.