National Health Center Week: What It Is and Why You Should Care

By: Mackenzie Gerl

National Health Center Week (NHCW) is fast approaching! But what is this week, what does it entail and why should you care?

NHCW is a week dedicated to celebrating and bringing awareness to America’s community health centers. This year the event runs from August 12 – August 18. Each year, the second week of August is dedicated to recognizing the service and contributions of Community, Migrant, Homeless and Public Housing Health Centers in providing access to affordable, high-quality, cost-effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people in the U.S. (National Health Center Week).

National Health Center Week has been recognized and celebrated for over 30 years to bring recognition to health centers and patients. This week is dedicated to bringing a strong message nationwide about the importance of community health centers, community health workers and most importantly the patients they serve.

Recognizing National Health Center Week is important not only for the patients we serve and the health workers we employ, but also to the future of the community health centers themselves.

In the recent past, congress has unanimously passed resolutions that call on the nation and general public to recognize and celebrate the efforts and work of America’s health centers.

According to the National Health Center Week website, last year and in several previous years, the President of the United States issued a Presidential Proclamation. In addition, governors, mayors and local governing bodies issue proclamations in tribute to the role of community health centers in expanding access to affordable and quality care in their states and communities. Last year, at the request of State/Regional Primary Care Associations and their Health Centers, governors and mayors in over 30 states across the country issued proclamations (Frequently Asked Questions). In the last few years, National Health Center Week activities have dramatically increased. In 2017, more than 1,800 National Health Center Week events were reported. Health Center events involved more than 80 members of Congress, hundreds of state and local media clips and nearly 50,000,000 social media impressions (NHCW Stats). For National Health Center Week 2018 it’s expected that health centers in all 50 states will continue to take this opportunity to join in the celebration and make a powerful statement across the country for America’s Health Centers.

What is a health center?

First, what is a community health center? A Community Health Center – or CHC – is a not-for-profit, consumer-directed health care organization that provides access to high-quality, affordable and comprehensive primary and preventive medical, dental and mental health care (What is a Community Health Center?). AxessPointe Community Health Centers, Inc. is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), represented by the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers, or OACHC. FQHCs receive operating grants under Section 330 of the United States Public Health Service Act.

Community health centers primarily serve medically underserved areas, and patients of low-income households, as well as underinsured and uninsured patients.

AxessPointe has locations throughout Summit and Portage counties in Akron, Barberton and Kent. We offer quality, affordable medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health and women’s health services to every patient, regardless of insurance coverage. AxessPointe also employs community health workers who are dedicated to serving patients and the community by connecting individuals to needed resources in the area.

So, why should you care?

National Health Center Week provides an ideal occasion to celebrate the long record of success and delivery of high-quality, cost effective and accessible care across the nation. This week is a great opportunity for health centers to speak out and tell the story of their community-based model of care and creating public awareness of what they do and how they do it (National Health Center Week). This week gives AxessPointe and health centers around the nation the chance to bring awareness to the health needs of their communities and the responsibilities to meet and serve those needs. This week reminds the public and our own organization to be aware of the current health care crisis in the U.S. NHCW has been established as a way to encourage public support for health centers. When awareness and public support improve, odds are better that legislation will pass in favor of America’s health centers. Overall, health center week creates an environment in which health centers, their providers, their patients and employees are able to thrive and create a fairer health system for all.

What’s going on during NHCW?

This year’s theme of National Health Center Week is Celebrating Health Centers: Home of America’s Health Care Heroes. So why does it need a theme? According to the National Health Center Week website, a Health Center Week theme allows health centers to frame specific messages in recognition of the strength and vitality of health centers to their communities and the health care system over all. Health Center Week focus days help narrow attention to some of the unique features and services of health centers (National Health Center Week).

According to the National Health Center Week website, health centers serve over 27 million patients every year. Our goal at AxessPointe is to serve these patients with the best possible care at affordable rates. This year for National Health Center Week we will be providing free health screenings, health fairs and activities to the communities we serve! See the schedule below for more details:

• Monday August 13 – Barberton
o Lake Anna YMCA in Barberton
o 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
o Free health screenings

• Tuesday August 14 – Akron
o Joy Park Community Center
o 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
o Community health fair with free health screenings, food and games

• Wednesday August 15 – Akron
o University (Hope) Academy
o 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
o Free health screenings and care packets for the homeless

• Thursday August 16 – AxessPointe
o All AxessPointe sites
o Business hours
o Games, give-aways and raffle baskets

• Friday August 17 – Kent
o Kent Social Services
o 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
o Free health screenings

• Saturday August 18 – Akron
o North Hill Exchange House
o 2 p.m. – 7 p.m.
o Free health screenings

Please join us during this week of celebration! There are also events happening all around the nation during National Health Center week. To see the national schedule and learn more about National Health Center Week, visit https://healthcenterweek.org/about-nhcw/

The National Health Center Week basic schedule is shown below. Click on each day’s title for more information about what they entail.

• Sunday, 8/12: Legislative Appreciation Day
o Recognize legislators and legislative staff

• Monday, 8/13: Honoring Health Center Heroes
o Nominate a health center hero

• Tuesday, 8/14: Public Housing Health Centers Day
o Work with your local housing authority or have a health fair

• Wednesday, 8/15: Healthcare for the Homeless Day
o Advocate for policies that end homelessness and provide health care

• Thursday, 8/16: Agricultural Worker Health Day
o Learn more about the Agricultural Worker 2020 Campaign for promotional materials

• Friday, 8/17: Patient Appreciation Day
o Staff recognition, voter registration, board for advocacy

• Saturday, 8/18: Children’s Health Day
o Health focused resources for kids and families

If you are not from the Summit or Portage area please visit https://healthcenterweek.org to find out about upcoming National Health Center Week events and activities in your area.

References

What is a Community Health Center? (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.mtpca.org/health-centers/community-health-center/

NHCW Stats. (2018). Retrieved from: https://healthcenterweek.org/nhcw-stats/

Frequently Asked Questions. (2018). Retrieved from: https://healthcenterweek.org/faqs/

National Health Center Week. (n.d.) Retrieved from: https://www.ohiochc.org/page/nhcw

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