National Health Center Week 2018
Each year in August, we celebrate “National Health Center Week”- a week to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Community Health Centers to the health and wellness of our nation.This year’s theme is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Our Healthcare Heroes!”
Community Health Centers like Callen-Lorde (also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers or FQHCs) serve 27 million people each year – nearly 1.3 million of whom are homeless, 83% of whom are uninsured or publicly insured, and 92% of whom are low-income.
So what does it mean to be an FQHC?
FQHCs were developed as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’ and the civil rights movement more than 50 years ago, as a result of a healthcare access movement. Community-based healthcare was meant to be embedded in neighborhoods as part of overall economic development efforts. FQHCs are both supported financially and regulated by the federal government, which means while we receive certain funding, it comes with certain restrictions. Some of the benefits of being an FQHC mean that we are part of a 340B pharmacy program, so that we can purchase medications at wholesale and pass those savings onto our uninsured and underinsured patients. Another benefit of this program is that it serves as a revenue stream, whereby we receive the difference between the wholesale price and the price of the medication for those who use the pharmacy that are insured.
There are also core philosophies of the FQHC program – that are requirements of all FQHCs – that make up the foundation of how we operate. One such requirement is that patients are served regardless of ability to pay but are asked to pay as they are able, under a sliding fee scale based on their income. Another is that 51% of our Board of Directors must be patients or parents/guardians of patients of the health center. One other example is that FQHCs must operate quality assurance programs that seek to monitor and continuously improve quality of care.
While Callen-Lorde is similar to many other FQHCs, we are also unique. As an FQHC that serves primarily LGBTQ populations, we serve a large number of patients who are privately insured. We believe this is because many people even with insurance have difficulty finding culturally competent care elsewhere.
At Callen-Lorde, we’re recognizing National Health Center Week with tabling and patient opportunities throughout the week, with stations to register (or re-register) to vote, postcards to write to our legislators on healthcare issues that matter, and more! Stop by for giveaways and more ways to get involved and show your appreciation for our Community Healthcare Heroes!