SEARHC honors National Health Center Week

August 07 2012

National Health Center Week is Aug. 5-11 this year, and this year the theme is “Celebrating America’s Health Centers: Powering Healthier Communities.”

Each year, the second week of August is dedicated to recognizing the service and contributions of community, migrant, homeless and public housing health centers for providing access to affordable, high-quality, cost-effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people in the United States.

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) operates 12 federally recognized community health centers located in the Southeast Alaska communities of Angoon, Haines, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Kasaan, Klawock, Klukwan, Pelican, Tenakee Springs, Thorne Bay and Juneau (Front Street Clinic, which provides health care for the homeless). SEARHC receives funding from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to operate these community health centers because they operate in medically underserved areas. These funds are in addition to what SEARHC receives from the Indian Health Service, so obtaining the community health center designation has enabled SEARHC to expand services in these communities. The community health centers are open to all (except Front Street Clinic, which provides services only to the homeless), though non-Natives use a sliding fee schedule based on income to pay for services.

“SEARHC health centers ensure that everyone in the community has access to affordable health care,” said Patricia Atkinson, SEARHC HRSA Program Manager. “More than 6,000 patients were served in SEARHC health centers over the past year. We offer a wide range of excellent services throughout the consortium.”

This year’s celebration honors the 47-year record of health centers providing affordable, high quality, cost-effective health care to all people, regardless of ability to pay. National Health Center Week 2012 also provides an opportunity to focus on the progress we have made toward fulfilling the goal of our \"Increasing Access to Affordable, Cost Effective, High Quality Care\" plan to provide a health care home to 30 million patients by 2015. The Affordable Care Act created the Community Health Center fund, which provides $11 billion over five years for the operation, expansion and construction of community health centers in the U.S.

In 2011, there were 1,128 community health centers operating in more than 8,500 delivery sites, providing care last year to approximately 20.2 million peiople in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin (Guam, American Samoa, etc.). Of the 20.2 million to receive care last year, 36 percent of them had no health insurance. About one in 15 people living in the U.S. now receives their primary care from a community health center. Community health centers now employ more than 138,000 individuals nationwide, and they added more than 25,300 jobs over the past three years. They employ more than 9,900 physicians and 6,900 mid-level providers.

For more information about National Health Center Week, please contact Patricia Atkinson at 966-8662 or Sydney Evenson at 966-8939, or go to http://www.healthcenterweek.org/.