WISCONSINREPORT.COM (08/11/2009) - While Congress pushes for national health care reform legislation that may ultimately open the door for more citizens to receive primary and preventive medical, dental and behavioral health care in a consistent, welcoming, health care home setting, the model of care provided by the Wisconsin Community Health Centers continues to serve as an example to follow, according to Stephanie Harrison, executive director of the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association.
“America’s 1,200 Community Health Centers, including the 17 strong and growing Health Centers in Wisconsin are marking National Health Center Week with a renewed commitment to their basic principles of patient care: high-quality, affordable, culturally-competent and consistent,” said Harrison.
“Drawing the public’s attention to our recent expansions during National Health Center Week will hopefully also draw Congress’s attention to our ability and willingness to grow to meet future coming patient access demands,” Harrison added.
As one of the bright spots in the current health care system, Community Health Centers were among the first recipients of funds allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Millions in stimulus funds have been distributed proportionately to each Health Center.
Harrison notes the dollars are quickly being turned around to benefit the communities Wisconsin Health Centers are serving, namely through facility growth, expanded hours, locations and patient services, permanent job creation and increased access to physicians, dentists and behavioral health counselors.
“Over the past year, heightened unemployment levels and the corresponding loss of health insurance coverage have led thousands of Wisconsin families and millions nationwide to worry about access to a doctor or a dentist for the first time,” said Harrison.
“So our Health Centers are using their stimulus funds to both sustain and expand their operations, because the demand for services has increased exponentially, especially in areas hit hard by business closings and job loss,” Harrison continued.
Community Health Centers emphasize primary care and wellness so that families can stay healthy and out of hospitals. Privately run, non-profit, community-directed and federally-supported, Health Centers never turn anyone away due to insurance status or ability to pay.
Harrison notes that over the past calendar year, hundreds more people have chosen their local Wisconsin Community Health Center as the best place for their family to receive primary health care.
Across the state, National Health Center Week (August 9-15th) is being marked with health fairs, receptions and visits by local, state and national leaders to Health Centers in their communities.
A small display in the state Capitol rotunda, is showcasing the “Faces of Wisconsin’s Health Centers” as a way to connect abstract concepts involving health reform to real people in real communities across Wisconsin.