Community Health Centers like Piedmont Access to Health Services, Inc. (PATHS) are celebrating Community Health Center Week by providing educational materials to their patients on a wide-range of chronic illnesses.

It is also a time to make the communities in which they serve aware of the services they provide.

For over 45 years, Community Health Centers across the US have provided a model of care that is cost-effective and proven to reduce disaparaties in care, especially among the low-income, under and uninsured. A recent study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California - San Francisco 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 socieo-economic challenges.

This is the case at PATHS where patients receive quality and affordable primary and preventive care services under one roof that include primary care, medication management, dental and behavioral health services, and case management referrals to specialist care.   “At PATHS our patients not only receive quality care on a regular basis but they are treated as individuals, with dignity and respect,” said Kay Crane, CEO. It is a goal of PATHS to engage the patient in a team approach to care with their care team that will help them be successful in improving their health and the quality of their lives.”

A new fact sheets from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) provide a more comprehensive glimpse behind 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.
  • Providing a system of preventive medicine that patients use regularly, thereby improving health outcomes.

 The successful model of care that health centers provide is tied with how they are directed by local communities. Federal law requires they are governed by patient-majority governing 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 make access to primary care easier, health centers also offer services that remove common, persistent barriers to health care, such as transportation, translation, insurance enrollment, case management, and health education. Health centers also empower their patients to be active participants in improving their health and in preventing or managing their chronic conditions through better nutrition, counseling or patient education.   As a result, health center patients are more likely to comply with their providers’ guidance than other patients and have a better chance for improved health. With better health and access to regular care at a health center, people can more easily avoid costly visits to the hospital.